Recently, my girlfriends and I turned our bi-monthly brunch dates into book club meetings. Our first book was “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. We met, ate Red Velvet pancakes (with cream cheese, chocolate drops and warm syrup), discussed the book and darted off to the theatre to see the movie. Below are the reviews:
With prose where no word was wasted, Kathryn Stockett reminded us of a historical period that some revere and others regret. She took us on a journey where women, Black and White, evolved in self-discovery despite the constraints of the society in which they lived. Even though this was a work of fiction, the presentation of the characters and their lives enlightened us to the undercurrents and bonds that surely existed in a time when racial and sexual boundaries were so distinct.
Abileen – with her slow burning courage, Minny – with her feisty stance on demanding her due respect, Celia – with her color-blind humanity, and Skeeter – with her birthing impatience of her stagnant environment, taught us to transcend those stereotypes that we may harbor from a time we never experienced. These characters, along with the many others, lived and breathe in my imagination throughout this book. There was not one moment when it was easy to put it down which is truly the sign of an excellent writer.
Although there were a few changes to the movie adaptation of the book, the movie portrayal did not waver from the integrity of the story presented in the book. I was VERY pleased of this fact.
Viola Davis (Abileen), Octavia Spencer (Minny), Emma Stone (Eugenia – Skeeter), Bryce Dallas Howard (Hilly), Jessica Chastain (Celia), and Ahna O’Reilly (Elizabeth) portrayed their characters EXACTLY as I imagined them. Their voices, dialogue, appearances, mannerisms……….everything…..was just as I imagined from the book. In my opinion, all of them deserve the Oscar. However, I must state that I wanted to slap Hilly much more from the movie version than from reading the book so maybe the Oscar should go to Bryce Dallas Howard.
I must also comment on the movie settings and the authenticity to furnishings and clothing details. They were magnificent in setting the mood and the tone for the time period.
Overall, I was very pleased with the movie. I saw it twice – once with my girlfriends and then, again, with my mother. I HIGHLY recommend it to everyone that lives in the USA.
My Personal View
I am one that reveres the historical significance of this period and the sacrifices that everyone (Black and White) made to progress our country. My grandmother and my aunt were maids when I was very young. No one ever told me this but I remember seeing them in uniforms similar to what was depicted in the book/movie and I recall that my grandmother always worked late on the holidays because she was cooking at her job. (She was a fabulous cook/baker.) This book gave me a glimpse into their experiences. It told me things about this part of their lives that they could not share with me because (I believe) they hoped for more for me.
It is easy to live in 2011 and look back in disdain on the 1960’s to say what we would do or not do – what we would tolerate or not tolerate. But, as one who is a direct beneficiary of all of the pain and sacrifices experienced during that period, I challenge all of you to open your minds and glimpse into the heart and souls of those who truly had the courage to risk everything and demand change. Even though this book and movie is a work of fiction, I believe it is an accurate portrayal of the diverse natures of those who actually lived the lives portrayed in the story.
Did you read the book? Did you see the movie? If so, please share your thoughts about it.