The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Of course, there are individual differences. Some maids, like Minny, can’t keep their mouths shut. Some, like Aibileen, genuinely love the white babies in their care. Some employers support their staff through troubled times. Others, like Hilly, are especially mean.
Whatever the side of town they are born into, the women’s horizons are limited. Perhaps being too tall and unattractive to find a husband will prove a benefit to Skeeter, the white daughter of a cotton farmer. Perhaps she can find the courage to break away from convention and, with the help of the help, tell the truth and save herself in the process.
I did cringe when it looked to be turning into a white saviour novel, but it worked for me. Other readers might be more critical, particularly after it became a bestseller.
I’d heard of this novel – and the movie it inspired – but I didn’t read it until I saw it on a list of novels on a theme of revenge, the topic of my WIP. It was an extra bonus to find that the battleground between the two groups of women begins with toilets, a topic underrepresented in fiction. Here, the white wives won’t let the help share their lavatory, although they can clean it.
You can read about toilet inequalities in this post from a couple of years ago: Fictional toilets
In the Upper Country by Kai Thomas
I was glad of the opportunity to educate myself some more about Black history. With the focus on alliances between those trafficked for slavery and the suppressed indigenous population, I appreciated the fresh insights this novel offers. But I wasn’t as emotionally engaged as I would’ve liked to have been: while the flashbacks are fascinating, I felt distanced from the characters in the here and now.
Thanks to UK publishers John Murray for my proof copy.
They claim we don’t have funds for a nurses’ pay rise. They claim we can’t afford to prevent kids being too hungry to learn. Yet this isn’t a banana republic; it’s one of the richest countries in the world.
Perhaps they’re lying when they say we’re in this together. We all have to cut back. Shamming when they wring their hands at food banks, at shelters for those unable to heat their homes.
Or is it something worse?
I didn’t vote for this reverse Robin Hood government. Yet still they take my taxes to fatten and flatter their friends.
*A Geordie expression for something fishy going on.