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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wednesday 1 February, 2012 - The Help by Kathryn Stockett chosen by Ant


Happy New Year everyone!  We are back again for another year of reading.  We are right in the middle of Summer over here and we met on a very hot evening. The air-conditioning was on with very little effect.  Lots of laughs were heard all around for it was great to catch up on each other and to see what everyone had been up to since Christmas. With so much talking going on, we had a very late start to our discussion and finished close to midnight.

Ant read out information on the author’s backround.  The Help is her first novel.

We were shocked that the book had received so many rejections before being published. (60 rejection letters!!)  and we were amazed at her drive to keep trying as seen in this article that Ant read out to us:

Also mentioned was the lawsuit against the author by her brother’s maid.
It was dismissed in August, 2011

We looked at the discussion questions taken from the author’s website:

Here are a few of our responses to some of those questions:

Who was your favourite character? Why?
A variety of responses to this … Some said Skeeter because she was so fresh, kind and quite different. Others liked Abelene,  one mentioned Hilly not because she liked her but because she was just such a mean character and she loved how she was portrayed in the book. Minnie was also a favourite.  Some had more than one favourite!!

Did it bother you that Skeeter is willing to overlook so many of Stuart’s faults so that she can get married, and that it’s not until he literally gets up and walks away that the engagement falls apart?
Yes, It bothered all of us, but that was how things were at the time that the book was set in.

From the perspective of a 21st century reader, the hair shellac system that Skeeter undergoes seems ludicrous. Yet women still alter theit looks in rather peculiar ways as the definition of “beauty” changes with the times. Looking back on your past, what’s the most ridiculous beauty regiment you ever underwent?
Smiles all around for this question.  De piped up with the time she curled her hair and it became really frizzy with tight curls and so hard to manage!!  Those of us with natural frizz made eye contact and grinned ………………    saying well that’s absolutely normal here!! 

What do you think about Minny’s pie for Miss Hilly? Would you have gone as far as Minny did for revenge? 
Everyone gave this the thumbs up for Perfect Revenge.  We don’t think we would have gone as far as Minny did, though we all smiled with glee at the thought of such a thing happening. Hilly certainly deserved it.

Somewhere in the midst of discussion, we managed to digress to:

  • Cultural attitudes towards having a Help in different countries of the world.  Also how this relates to immigration and the tendency for people to look for work in other countries so that they can earn enough to support their families at home.
  • Personal experiences were related by those of us who actually grew up with a Help in the household.
  • Rose who became romantically involved with (and then married)  mining magnet Lange Hancock after being employed by the family.  (Prix d'Amour ... the mansion that was demolished was mentioned!!)
  • Young children and if they are influenced by family beliefs regarding prejudice and skin colour.
  • The headscarf ....  Ge experimented with different methods of tying a headscarf!  We suddenly thought of poor Isadora Duncan who strangled herself when her scarf got caught in the wheel of the car .... This unfortunate incident was mentioned in Alexander McCall Smith's Corduroy Mansions
  • Reading using the Kindle and the iPad ....  
  • We had to google Stevie Wonder's first hit when he was 12 years old ..... for it was mentioned somewhere in the book and would help to date the period in which the book was set in.  Ge finally found it and we had a listen to the track so here is the link:  The track was called Fingertips  Stevie is on Bongo's and Harmonica. It is just brilliant!!

Now, back to the book.

  • We found the book easy to read.  It was a page turner for some of us therefore we got through it quickly.
  • Some mentioned that they read it with curiosity and also at the same time with a sense of impending doom…and concern for the main characters.
  • Parts of it were unbelievable for some of us for example  we questioned how  it was possible for Skeeter to meet secretly with Abilene and Minny without getting noticed. 
  • On the whole the book was a huge hit. We enjoyed reading it and it was very good!! 

Visit the author's website for more information on the book.

Kathryn Stockett's Website

(We recommend the film!!)

imdb link

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