Review: The Help

By Isobel Cosford

As summer falls to an abrupt end with the sun becoming lower it can be difficult to carry on with reading season, however Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling fictional novel ‘The Help’ is a perfect place to start as the nights begin to last longer, with a long read of 524 pages of truly enlightening historical fiction.

The Help focuses on a group of women set in the era of the 60s in Mississippi. The featured women are found to be interconnected through various relationships and roles, whether Aibileen, a black member of ‘the help’ whose friend, Minny Jackson, works for the horrible housewife Hilly Holbrook, who hates newcomer Celia Foote, a soft-hearted sweetheart trying to make it into the Women’s League in Mississippi, which is sympathised by rebellious writer Skeeter Phelan who risks it all to document stories of the women who work for the white yummy-mummy’s in the segregated community of southern North America, determined to tell the tales of the black women of Mississippi.

Not only is Stockett’s original novel a journey through racial struggles, but a struggle of sexism experienced in the 60’s in the backward town of Jackson, Mississippi. Whether it’s Celia’s battle in becoming pregnant to hold the title of ‘the perfect housewife’, or Minny’s fearful attitude towards her severely abusive husband, the winner of the Audies’ Fiction Award is able to piece together individual struggles into a carefully fragmented but fully complete, unforgettable novel.

Kathryn Stockett beautifully ties together the character’s autonomous anecdotes through using different narratives, where she explores the diverse lifestyles in 1960’s Jackson, from Skeeter’s determination to go against the rules of segregation to Minny’s revengeful actions towards her ex-mistress, Hilly. ‘The Help’ is an absolute fictional masterpiece, as you follow the journey of these women (black or white, upper or working class) through this delicate but ambitious novel.