My Review of You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi Macfarlane
I did have the intention (for all of five minutes) to write a review of War and Peace, but sat down at my laptop and tried writing for god knows how long and it just didn’t work. My opinion on it is that it’s the longest book I’ve ever read and quite dull in places, but the characters are quite loveable and have a subtle quality to them.
Date Finished: 23rd April 2013
Book Challenge 2013 Number: 32
Anyway, onward to the book I finished today, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This follows characters in 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi in the height of the civil rights movement and racial segregation. The main characters are black housemaids Aibileen and Minny and white writer/college graduate Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan, and the story is split into their different perspectives on life in this sleepy, segregated town.
You definitely have to admire Minny for her spirit and courage when you find out what she goes through on a daily basis, even if she is cursed with a big mouth and the nerve to use it repeatedly, leading her to be fired 19 times in the same town. The story with the pie will never cease to make me feel sick and make me laugh at the same time. She without a doubt gives as good as she gets and then some, which makes her a bit of a loveable rogue.
Aibileen is the mother hen of the black help, who has raised almost 20 white children in her career. She’s damn well good at it, and creates a great relationship with little Mae Mobley, who she craves for to learn to be a kind, accepting person who takes people as they are rather than the colour of their skin. Her determination throughout the book leaves me in awe, she’s eternally optimistic and everything pays off.
Skeeter is an interesting character who is constantly driven by the mystery surrounding her old black nanny, Constantine, who she was very close to but who disappeared when she was at college without an explanation. It is this mystery which drives the plot forward as this eternal curiosity and passion to find out what happened leads Skeeter to asking lots of questions and receiving intriguing answers.
If thinking of which character really gets your back up and you want to strangle it’s Hilly Holbrook, an annoying busybody who thinks she runs the town. She isn’t a main character in the sense that her point of view shapes the book like the first three characters I mentioned, but she’s an irritating ideological presence throughout the book, the antagonist to pretty much everyone, especially poor Skeeter towards the end.
The Help is definitely a book I would recommend, it explores civil rights in a fascinating way whilst giving you characters which make you smile and who you identify with.