Eclectic, quirky, and sometimes edgy…this is how things look from my front porch.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Review - The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I just finished a book that was so fabulous, that I had to get up after 1 a.m. and write about it right away.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is the best book I've read all year. I tend to follow book reviewes pretty carefully, but I've seen no advertising about this book at all. I picked it up at Walmart, of all places, for $17.34 instead of the list rice of 24.95. I'm sure it is on sale (gently used) on Amazon for even less.

The Help is a story about African-American domestic staff, the dawning of the Civil Rights movement and the white families who employ the maids. It is written from the perspective of three different women, two of them are the housekeepers and one is the progressive adult daughter of a traditional Southern family. The story is riveting and the dialog is superb, with an often ruthless look of the pettiness, as well as the deep cruelty, of racial prejudices. With such a serious topic discussed, The Help still managss to be very funny and entertaining. I literally could not put this book down, which is why I am up so late.

Part of the porgnancy of this book for me was remembering our housekeeper, Rose Brown, whom we hired in Virginia just at the same time period of the the book. Rose was a very tall woman, who had the most beautiful, long-fingered hands I'd ever seen. She wore a distinctive gold ring that formed a knot with a little ruby, her birth stone, on it.

Rose frequently spoke of herself in the third person, such as "Don't you kids be back-sassing Rose." She had very distinctive angular hand-writing. A few years back, I found a grocery list stuck inside my mother's New York Times Cookook,in Rose's handwriting which washed me over in nostalgia. Apparently the tunafish, baking soda, and celery never made it home.

She used to make really incredible peanut brittle that she smashed into pieces with a hammer. She had a big, plywood board that she'd covered with an old sheet so that we could do 1,000 piece puzzles with her while she watched her "stories" (Like sands through the hour glass, so are the Days of Our Lives...") She'd slide the plywood under a bed until the next time we worked on the puzzle. Rose moved with us from Virginia to Connecticut, but finally moved back home when my mother remarried and we moved to New York.

Pick up the book, you'll love it. Even if you didn't have the blessing of a Rose in yoru life.