My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Having just joined the Hailsham WI Book Club, this is the very first read with them. We wll be discussing it at our next meeting, so this is an honest review of the book.
Without a doubt my favourite character was Minnie - despite all the rules that her Mama set down for her, she just couldn't help her sassy mouth, and in that she reminds me a lot of myself. Given the way she was treated, her dis-trust of white peoples was completely justified. I would have loved to see her stand up to her man a bit earlier on though - he was just another example of a bully.
My least favourite character was Hilly, who was a total social climbing control freak, and a bully to boot. Like every bully I've ever come across, she covered up her own insecurities my using manipulation and fear. Her friendship with Skeeter was a prime example of this, once she found that control was lost, she turned on her.
Granted she came across as a loving Mother herself, but there again her children were only small, what kind of Mother would she make when they grew up and showed any kind of free will themselves?
Skeeter's Mother, Charlotte, did come across as an a-typical Southern Mother, being a creature of her environment, time and upbringing. Deep down though she was by far a better example of motherhood then Hilly. She also deeply cared about Constantine, but just couldn't express that because of her upbringing - in no way to I think was she unsympathetic.
Elizabeth was like any weak willed person, finding it easier to be dictated to by Hilly, rather than stand up and do the right thing. Her relationship with her daughter, Mae Mobley, seemed on a knife edge of abusive. What I'm still in two minds about is was she just bad, or lazy?
I felt so sorry for Skeeter in the beginning, especially when she was put through the mill by her Mother, but towards the end I felt really proud of her. She was definitely a late starter in the personal, mental and career development. Quite obviously a creature a little ahead of her time, and perfect as a Hippie. Good for her that she eventually stood up to Stewart, and told him the truth about her work, otherwise she would have just ended up living a lie.
The far to wise and serene Aibileen .... some people are just born on a more serene and cerebral level than most people, it's probably a gift from god. She was definitely wise beyond her years, and way beyond her time in history.
All in all the book was a sympathetic and poetic look at Racism. There will always be people that will see colour first, and not just judge somebody on what they find to be in their heart and head.
This wonderfully crafted story left me with hope in the abilities of mankind to ascend beyond the social dictates of the time, and learn to love and appreciate somebody by what they learn about them from experience, rather than what they first see. Most importantly it teaches that you if you live your live dish out out poop, then at some point in the future somebody is going to serve it up to you in a pretty looking pie and stuff it right back down your throat Miss Hilly.
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I was provided with a copy of this book via the Book Club, but decided that the print was just too small for me to be happy with, plus I just rather read things on my Baby (Kindle Fire HD). So, having joined the Library in East Sussex this week, I borrowed the book from the ebook section.
However, if you would like to buy a copy download it HERE from Amazon. I believe that there has also been a film made based on this book, and I think we might be watching it at the Book Club (even if we don't I think I'm going to go ahead and get a DVD for home).