Apr 01

The Help – Audio Book Review

The Help

by Kathryn Stockett


First Published  in 2009
Publisher: Penguin

Click to buy the book The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Click to buy the audiobook The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Book Synopsis:

1962 in Jackson, Mississippi, three women, as different as can be, Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny come together for an underground project, which if exposed, would put them all at risk.

Skeeter is a 22-year-old white woman who has just returned home after graduating from university. But in 1962, mothers care more about their daughter’s marriage prospects than their career hopes.

Aibileen is an astute black maid who is bringing up her seventeenth white child. When Aibileen’s own son died, as his employers looked the other way, something changed inside her. She is dedicated and caring towards the little girl she is raising, but she knows that they will have to part ways someday.

Then there is the sassy Minny, also a black maid, who can cook up a storm, but has a sharp tongue that always gets her fired. Minny gets lucky and finds a new job, working for someone so new to Jackson that she doesn’t yet know her reputation. But her new employer has her own secret to hide.

Through various circumstances, these women meet and begin in their own clandestine way to push the boundaries, and cross the entrenched but invisible line that defines their town and their times.

My Audio Book Review:

This was my first audio book purchase and I absolutely loved it. The Help was not only Audible.com’s the highest-rated audiobook of 2009, but it is also its highest-rated audiobook of all time. It’s also been on the New York Times bestseller list for 51 weeks and is presently at No.1. So I started with quality.

This audio book is wonderful to listen to. The actors were flawless and the images conjured by their voices had me laughing and even tearing up in public as I was listening to the novel on my i pod.

This story is narrated in the first person by three women Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer. [When writing the novel, Katheryn Stockett said she based some of Minny's sassy-ness on her interactions with actress friend Octavia Spencer who ended up playing Minny in the audiobook.]

I have been overwhelmed by black vs white novels in the past few weeks. Performing in To Kill A Mockingbird as Scout, reading Small Island by Andrea Levy and listening to The Help. You’d think it would be too much, too infuriating, heavy, but although The Help deals with hard issues, the women in the story are full of soul, warmth and chutzpa.

Even the villain of the piece, Miss Hilly Holbrook, is fascinating in her unabashed racist behaviour. Miss Hilly, respected in her white ladies community, is intent on delivering her public service message, ‘The Home Help Sanitation Initiative’ – advising white families to install outdoor toilets for their help to prevent the spread of their diseases. I spent the whole novel wishing she got her just deserts.

Skeeter is the lone white woman who actually sees the injustice. At first, she doesn’t say anything. Then elements fall into place for her and she secretly makes her stand. The stakes are high, what they are doing is dangerous. Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny could get in a lot of trouble if found out.

The Help was extremely enjoyable listening. Listening to an audio book made me more productive and even enthusiastic about doing manual tasks – I cleaned the house and even sewed while listening! Aside from great travel listening while walking or on the train, this audio book was great to listen to when I was too tired to read but too awake to sleep. I’d just play it as I lay in bed with my eyes closed.

I’ve found a new form of entertainment!

My next audio book is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Click here to buy the book The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Click here for more information on audio books.

x Julie

Audio Book Reviews

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