What it says on the back cover
‘Outstanding, immensely funny, very compelling, brilliant’ Daily Telegraph
‘Immensely readable’ Observer
Enter a vanished world; Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but are trusted not to steal the silver…
There’s Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child, and nursing the hurt caused by her own son’s tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from college, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared. Skeeter, Abileen and Minny. No one would believe they’d be friend; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is a search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell…
What made me pick up this book
Having read Alice Walker’s The Color Purple some time ago and throughly enjoying it. I felt it necessary to read this book about black maids who worked in service industries to the white people in the United States. I had seen the film and throughly enjoyed it and after reading this, I think I enjoyed it even more than the film.
About the book
Set in Mississippi, USA this journey makes its entrance by introducing Aibileen, a coloured woman in August 1962. It begins with Abileen introducing her seventeenth white child that she has raised known as Mae Mobley (age two) and how s Abileen takes care of the infant as well as any cooking, cleaning, and other chores that were expected of her around a white middle class family home. Aibileen does not live with her employers but commutes each day across town in Jackson which is home to some 200,000 people. In Chapter three we are then introduced to Minny, Aibileen’s friend who also works in service and then Miss Skeeter, a young university student who comes home and befriends the two women which was unheard of considering she is white and the other two are coloured.
The book (as the author mentions in the interview in the last few pages of the book) is loosely based on a maid that the author had as a youngster and growing up in Missisippi. Although the story itself is a work fiction, Stockett does an excellent job of bringing these women together to make them seem real and that they did exist back in the sixties. Stockett’s own maid shared stories with her as she grew up such tales of getting sunburnt despite her dark skin. But this book is a book of love, it’s about having the courage to stand for what you believe in and tell it like it is. It is a tale about women of colour who were scared out of their wits when they were asked to share their story but in the end, it helped us to understand them, appreciate them for who they are and remember what life really was like for a maid and a maid of colour. I enjoyed the movie and I loved the book. It would be wonderful if Stockett could write a conclusion to Aibileen’s life after she retired and what became of her. But in many ways the way it ended gives us as the reader or the viewer a sense that her job was done and she lived out her days quite comfortably and maybe hired a maid for herself! A beautiful read and very hard to put down. I totally recommend it.