This couldn’t really be more different to my last read, Stardust. I went from an epic journey through a magical land to a dense, claustrophobic story in the close, sweltering town of Jackson, Mississippi.
I loved the way this novel conjured up such a convincing world for me. Whether the characters were in a stuffy living room for afternoon tea, walking down a dusty road in the evening or hiding from a violent situation in a tiny room, I could see it all in front of me, crystal clear. Whilst some of the supporting cast were a little exaggerated, the main characters were fantastic. As I imagine Stockett intended, I identified desperately with Skeeter, the graduate floundering for a place in the world and finding no firm footholds. Meanwhile Aibileen and Minny, the maids that Skeeter is interviewing, are variously touching, hilarious and devastating. Finally there’s Celia, the ex-trailer resident whose attempts to make her way into Jackson society had me shaking with laughter and then sobbing all over the pages.
I know there’s a lot of fuss about the angle taken in this book, and the fact that it is written by a white woman who was herself raised by a black maid. In all honesty, I don’t feel remotely qualified to comment on that, but I will refer you here where you’ll find tons of sources if you want to learn more.