Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review of The Help

The display of the fictional bookstore in the movie where the book "The Help" is sold.
I recently was able to go with my dear friend Elaine to see an advance screening of  The Help, based on the book of the same name by Kathryn Stockett.  In a nutshell, I loved it and thought it was a fantastic movie.  It's always SO HARD to see a movie after reading a book that you loved and I did get irritated because I thought there were some central pieces of the book that were left out of the movie, but that's the way it goes.  I loved being able to see the neighborhoods and homes of Hilly, Elizabeth, Skeeter, Minny, and Aibileen.  Aibileen's and Minny's houses were almost exactly as I had pictured them, particularly the kitchen and kitchen door in Minny's house.
Aibileen's kitchen.

There was an area where I thought the movie did a better job than the book, and that was in explaining that Hilly and Elizabeth (and the other families who had help_ were not necessarily rich people, but solidly middle class.  Although there was a conversation in the book where one character laments the poor girls in south Jackson who can't afford any help, the book didn't make it quite clear that even most of the middle class families of Jackson, Mississippi had help.   Elizabeth even made her own clothes to save money and I imagine that some of that savings is what permitted her husband to be able to pay for a maid.  The scenes where the neighborhood was pictured clearly established that these families were not living in mansions - rather they were in three bedroom ranch houses.  I have to give the director a lot of credit for that setting the scenes the way he did.

My mom and sisters are also big fans of the book, The Help.  I didn't read it in print the first time but listened to it as an audiobook.  It was beautiful and I was particularly touched by Aibileen's relationship with Mae Mobley and got teary over the depictions of their relationship.

My mom is an adult fiction buyer for a small, independent bookstore in Alabama.  As part of her responsibilitites, she gets to go to these book show/convention type things to see the books out there that are planned for release in the next year or so.  There are many authors at these events and some of them include opportunities to meet and spend time with authors. After one of these events a few years ago, Mom called to relate that she had had the nicest conversation at a luncheon with a female author "about the age of you girls."  I asked my mom to recall the meeting and am delighted to introduce her as a guest poster:

"It was at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance annual tradeshow in Mobile in Spetember of 2009. During that 3 day event, Kathryn was a participant in the Moveable Feast of Authors, a luncheon during which authors move from table to table talking about their books to independent booksellers from the SE United States. I was fortunate enough to have her sit right next to me.  We had a grand discussion about many aspects of race relations.  As I was talking to her at the luncheon (you know, I was the self-proclaimed expert on racial issues having lived in Selma and I even argued a few points with her for which she thanked me when I ran into her later). I thought she was too young and too privileged to have written such a book. To myself I am saying "she cannot possibly have a clue".

I started reading the advanced reader's copy later that day and I was blown away. In the ARC was a letter from the publisher, Amy Einhorn, asking readers to e-mail her with comments about the book. Of course I e-mailed her when I was about in the middle of the book telling her my original opinion of the author's ability to write such a story and how my mind was quickly and completely changed. After a few e-mails back and forth, I asked Amy to send my comments to the author, which she did. Kathryn and I later corresponded several times. As soon as the book was published, I received a beautiful, pristine, personalized copy which I will treasure always.

When she did a telephone talk with my book club, Kathryn said she had absolutely no idea the book would be as popular as it was and was astounded that it had been translated into so many languages.  As a book seller, I can say that I have personally sold dozens and dozens of copies of this book and every customer who came back to me to talk about it loved it. I am thrilled that it has done so well. "
So, in summary: WELL DONE to the Director (and screenwriter)Tate Taylor and a VERY WELL DONE to the author, Kathryn Stockett.
Oh, and I got to go to the advance screening of the movie FOR FREE as a guest of my friend Elaine who was a guest of a PR company, but these opinions are mine all mine !  I, of course, couldn't resist trying to get a couple laughs during the trivia quiz before the movie, and I just hope I didn't embarass Elaine and I hope the PR company doesn't lose my application to be on their press list.


Elaine said...

I had no idea what a perfect guest you would be! I was thrilled to hear that your mom actually knew the author! And since I didn't read the book myself, you inspired me to do so. And nice guest post from Thrift Store Grandmama!

Stacy said...

I love good audiobooks - thanks for the recommendation! I'll request it at the library today!

viagra online said...

I loved being able to see the neighborhoods and homes of Hilly, Elizabeth, Skeeter, Minny, and Aibileen.

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