Search This Blog

Sunday, March 4, 2012

[The Help] Uncomfortable story that was gratifying to read

I have my own rule which I seldom break.
First it was rather a habit of mine. But, it just stuck with me, and I don't go against it.
If there is a movie based on a book, I have to read the book first before I rent the movie.
I just said "rent the movie" because I don't usually go to cinema to see a movie beyond "G- General Audiences" since Remi was born. I went to see a couple of movies with colleagues while I had to stay and work in Ottawa by myself during weekdays while Mr. D. and kids were at our then-hometown Toronto. But, we are all now in Ottawa, so I don't have excuses(?) to go out. 

I wanted to see The Help since Olivia Davis started to be mentioned as a strong nominee for the Best Actress of the 84th Oscars.
Her performance in Doubt was stunning and deserved for the grand prize.
I heard she was amazing in The Help as well, but I've been holding it back since I wanted to read the original novel first.
And at last I picked up the book, and turned a page over a page until the last page.

I enjoyed the book very much even though I couldn't quite believe that such things happened only 50 years ago.
It was a great page-turner book. I couldn't stop reading, and finished the 530 pages in two days, which is almost, not quite though, at the speed I had read "Harry Potter and the deathly hollows". 
Kathryn Stockett dared to speak the civil rights era through the eyes and voices of the black maids employed in the white households of Jackson, her hometown.
What I admire the most about the book and the author was that the book was addressing a really hard and uncomfortable topic. I earnestly envy people who can writes about something that bothers them just like Skeeter, ththe main white character, who risks the wrath of her social boundary by crossing the colour bar.

The book switches point-of-views between Skeeter,white educated female, Aibileen and Minny, both maids attending white families. As the story develops, relationship between the main characters also changes and readers can feel the warm camaraderie between them, despite cultural and racial differences. As the point-of-views changes, for example from Skeeter to Abilieen or Minny, also does the language of book changes from a normal southern English to southern slang with incomplete vocabulary. Well, that's why it actually  was hard to understand the dialogue for the first few pages, but the switching languages made the story much more vivid and realistic, indeed.

The part that hurt was that colour-blind white kids who were truly attached to their coloured nannies grow to acquire their parents' attitude and suddenly or gradually become totally colour-conscious. I can't imagine how their nannies would have felt. The kids you have loved just like your own turn their back to you and treat you like a second class people. Aibileen described those feelings in a frank, but calm voice, which ached me even more.

I love the book because the main story line is relationship between women, white and coloured, without major love story line, even though there is a scent of love story between Skeeter and Stuart.

I wish I read this book in a slower pace. Then I must be still reading it.
Now I'm so curious about the fameuse actresses' performances.
I am going to rent the DVD soon.

Do you recommend the movie?
If you both read the book and saw the movie, which was better?
Well, I know it's kind of a silly question, since I have never seen a movie that was made better than the original book itself. Still it could be outstanding on its own right, couldn't it?

The Help


  1. I LOVED the movie, so I recommend it. But I haven't read the book yet (though I do now own it). I, too, usually prefer to read the book before watching the movie, but I have made exceptions.

    By the way, I just bought a book called, "The Post Misress," (I believe that's the name), it is written by the same author as The Help.

    Now I want to go and watch the move The Help again! :)

    Hugs my friend,

    1. Hi Virginia,
      I read your comment before we headed out to a sugar bush in Quebec. I rented the DVD on our way back home. We will watch it this evening after kids go to bed.
      BTW, is it true that "The Post Mistress(misress)" is written by Kathryn Stockett? I thought she had only one book published, so far. Hmmm curious... I should check out.
      I'll let you know how I will have liked the movie version of The Help.
      Have a nice afternoon. It's 14 degrees (Fahrenheit) here now.