Bestselling author of ‘The Help’ comes to Park City
April 30, 2010
Dolly’s Bookstore will host a community event with Kathryn Stockett, author of New York Times bestselling novel "The Help," on Thursday, May 6, from 1 to 2 p.m. Stockett will read excerpts from the book, answer questions and sign copies.
In her first novel, Stockett, a native Southerner, portrays what happens when three women two black, one white decide to break through the boundaries that separate their worlds in 1962 Jackson, Miss. Writing in the distinctive voices of each of these characters, Stockett tells a story of friendship that crosses the lines of race, class and age as the momentous events of the civil rights movement unfold around them.
Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan has just returned to her family’s cotton plantation with a brand-new college degree and aspirations to be a writer, but no engagement ring, much to her mother’s disappointment. As her social consciousness awakens, Skeeter begins to notice the daily injustices borne by her friends’ maids, Aibileen and Minny. Aibileen, a fifty-something black maid raising her seventeenth white child, has suffered the loss of her own son to racist indifference yet remains reluctant to challenge the status quo. Her volatile younger friend, Minny, is raising five kids on maid’s wages and struggles constantly to rein in her outrage.
Skeeter watches her insecure and neglectful friend, Elizabeth, who counts on Aibileen to nurture and protect Elizabeth’s baby daughter, build a separate bathroom for Aibileen in her garage. Next, her friend Hilly, the president of the local Junior League, forces Minny out of a job and blackballs her from the households of Jackson.
Skeeter eventually lands a job as a household advice columnist for a local newspaper, but her ambitions extend to subjects of greater significance than the myriad uses of Crisco. She convinces Aibileen, Minny and their friends to join her in writing a book about the daily life of a black maid. The stories uncover more than Skeeter had imagined, as they dramatize the disdain and love that coexists in the relationships between the black "help" and their white employers.
Meanwhile, Medgar Evers is shot to death in Jackson, marchers are set upon by police dogs and water cannons, and Martin Luther King, Jr., gives his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington.
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As Skeeter and the maids write their anonymous accounts, foremost in their minds is one question: What will the white women of Jackson do when they read what’s been written about them? The three women must choose whether to jeopardize their jobs, relationships, perhaps even their lives, for the chance to proclaim their vision of a humanity that knows no boundaries.
"The Help" evokes the bonds and burdens of friendship, the complex relationships between mothers and daughters, and the challenges of coming of age in a tumultuous era. Throughout the book, Stockett offers piquant reminders of a time and place when an ad for a secretary might read "Trim, young secretary wanted. Typing not nec." and an eager woman jumps to answer the phone "like a dog on a coon." But above all, "The Help" is an eye-opening story about women of different races who, amidst the turbulence of the civil rights movement, start a movement of their own forever changing a town, and the way women mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends view one another.
Press release for THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
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