Even though I saw the film version when it first came out, I only read the massively successful novel The Help as recently as last week.
As soon as I opened the first chapter, I couldn’t put it down. Having already seen the film, I had a good idea of the plot and its outcome. The story is set in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. There are three protagonists Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter. Aibileen and Minny are best friends and maids who are subjected to racist abuse and lives of hardship because they are black. Skeeter, a white woman and aspiring writer, is fascinated by the way in which black men and women are treated in her town. Skeeter sets out to document the reality of the maids’ everyday lives, hoping to coerce other white people in to broadening their minds and changing their attitudes towards the “help”.
Of course books, by their nature, always contain more details and developments than their onscreen counterparts. I thoroughly enjoyed gaining further insight in to the lives of Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter and their friends – and enemies. There are plenty of little anecdotes that contribute to the main story, a number of which are not included in the film.
The evening that I finished the book, I still hadn’t got enough so I watched the DVD to compare the two. The Help is probably one of the best book-to-movie adaptations that I have ever seen. The viewer still gets the same sense of constant fear and terror that is portrayed in the novel and also an awareness of the courage and kindness of the more admirable characters. It’s very well cast with Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer taking the leading roles.
Like the book, the film is a genuinely thought-provoking piece that has both laugh-out-loud and tear-jerking moments throughout. If you haven’t already, I’d definitely recommend taking a look at both the novel and the film as each is as entertaining, compelling and unforgettable as the other.