Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"The Help" -- book and movie

The Help Poster

When I first began seeing the advertisements for the movie The Help I was tempted to find and read the book first.  The scenes that flashed across the television screen were so funny and surprising and I just knew I would love it.

A few days later I saw the book in Shoppers Drug Mart.  I picked it up.  I put it down again.  I picked it up and put it down a few more times before deciding to leave it on the shelf.  I checked at the local library and they had one copy of the book and a huge waiting list to borrow it.  The next day I went back and bought it at the drug store.

Here's what it says on the back of the book:
Aibileen Clark is a black maid in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, raising her seventeenth white child.  She's always taken orders quietly, but lately it leaves her with a bitterness she can no longer bite back.  Her friend Minny Jackson has certainly never held her tongue, or held on to a job for very long, but now she's working for a newcomer with secrets that leave her speechless.  And white socialite Skeeter Phelan has just returned from college with ambition and a degree but, to her mother's lament, no husband.  Normally Skeeter would find solace in Constantine, the beloved maid who raised her, but Constantine has inexplicably disappeared.
Together, these seemingly different women join to work on a project that could forever alter their destinies and the life of a small town--to write, in secret, a tell-all book about what it's really like to work as a black maid in the white homes of the South.  Despite the terrible risks they will have to take, and the sometimes humorous boundaries they will have to cross, these three women unite with one intention:  hope for a better day.

So I opened the book and started reading and I was enjoying it.  I wasn't sure it was as good as I had been hoping but I read on.  Next thing I knew, it was hours later and I was hungry and thirsty.  I made myself a sandwich and a cup of tea and curled back up in my chair to continue reading.  It took me 9 hours to read the book.  Yes, I read it in one day.  I was tired and hungry but I had to keep reading.  It was like I had no choice.  I wanted to know what would happen next.  I wanted to solve the mysteries. 

Kathryn Stockett has a marvellous way of telling a story.  What I enjoyed the most is the gradual manner in which you came to know the characters.  There were surprises in every chapter.  I would get an impression of a character and then learn something new which changed the way I perceived them, especially Minnie and Constantine.  Boy, was I surprised by a few things about the two of them.

Tuesday is cheap night at the movies so I went with Mom, Connie and Charlotte to see The Help movie.  Krista and John were there too but in the back rows somewhere probably smooching since they are still very much newlyweds.

Guess what?  The movie was good.  Not quite as good as the book, of course.  But it was very good.  I would definitely go to see it again on another cheap night at the movie theatre.  The script writers managed to pick out quite a few of the best bits of the book and put them in the movie.  I'm not sure I'm happy with the way they changed the Constantine story line.  But for the most part it was very well done.  My other pet peeve was Skeeter's hair do.  It just didn't seem right.  It looked far too fake. 

See the movie and read the book.  You will enjoy them both so much.