Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Aibileen is a black maid raising her 17th white child.
Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is the sassiest woman in Mississippi: a wonderful cook with a gossip's tongue.
Graduate Skeeter returns from college with ambitions, but her mother will not be happy until she's married.
Although world's apart, Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny's lives converge over a clandestine project that will change the town of Jackson forever.
©2009 Kathryn Stockett (P)2009 Penguin Audio
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The book itself is wonderful, but the narrators add a dimension that I might have missed in reading it from the page. That is not something I would find very often. Suffice it to say that the performance is absolutely second to none. A tour de force.
This book is a bit slow to start with and it takes a while to get into the accents, but suddenly you find yourself with the characters experiencing their lives, their thoughts, hopes and fears from their points of view. You really feel as if you are a fly on the wall in their lives, and miss them when the book has finished.
As a bonus this book is beautifully read by several different voices so you don't have one narrator trying unsuccessfully to represent several very different characters. Some narrators just don't sound anything like their characters, but in this book they were perfect for each one. Well worth listening to and would make a great film.
Good story line, very well delivered and very thought provoking! I normally only listen to audio books when I can't sleep but I couldn't put this one down throughout the day also.
"Live Jackson in the 60s..."
I had read this book in paperback and loved it. You feel for these women in Jackson, you rile at the inequality, the unfairness, the bullying, the ignorance. But it is never sentimental. I loved the way the local accents were written in the book and could almost hear those women speaking.
However the audio version brings their idioms, accents and grammatical quirks alive. It is beautifully read, perfectly pitched. Every character's personality is recognisable. You are there in Jackson. You feel the wet heat, the fear, the deference. This audio version is better than the book. It's brilliant. Do listen to it.
"The Help - Brilliant"
This was the best audio book I have ever listened to. The characters were brilliant and I couldn't put my ipod down. I have been a member for 3 years and listened to a lot of books but I enjoyed this one the most by far - it was sad, happy, funny but mostly educational about a world that is thankfully in the past.
"My very favourite audiobook."
Simply the very best audiobook I have heard. Beautifully narrated, an extraordinary story, characters I fully believed in & cared about deeply. I cried at the end, mainly because I wanted to carry on listening to their stories. I have recommended it to many friends & so far everyone has enjoyed it as much as I did.
"I loved this book!"
It was gripping; the characters were well drawn and believable and the readers' voices were really convincing.
"Captivating from the first page!"
This is the first audio book I have listened to. It was a wonderful story and narrated beautifully. The story is told from the perspective of three different players, two coloured maids and a southern white girl. In this sense the story lends itself perfectly to a narrated book. The story is riveting and you really get involved with the characters and feel their emotions. I even found myself crying in parts! A wonderful experience. I listened at every opportunity and unlike a conventional book, I could listen while ironing, making the dinner etc........!! I couldn't put it down and finished it within a few days! Well recommended. I am just worried that my next audio book won't live up to this one!
"One of the BEST books I've read in a long time."
The novel is set in 1962, after Ms Parks decided she deserved to sit wherever she damn well pleased on that bus... but the white population of Mississippi begs to differ, (you’ll see what I mean…).
The first narrative voice belongs to Aibileen. Hers is a calm, godly voice, under which lies years of sadness, resentment, feelings of insignificance and above all, fear.
The second narrative voice is that of Minny. How I loved this woman! At first I thought that perhaps she was something of a stereotype: she's sassy, a great cook, proud, boisterous and she just can't keep a lid on her sarcasm. Her narrative cracked me up and saddened me at the same time. It's just so unfair that such a bright and vivid character should be so subjugated by the brain-dead harem of ninnies who run the town.
These white ladies are led by the vicious Miss Hilly, an antagonist who I thoroughly enjoyed hating. Still, I loved despising her.
The third narrative is that of Skeeter. She is a young, white college graduate who has achieved a lot for a woman of her time, but she has not achieved anything important, at least not as far as society is concerned. Instead of moping about her lot, Skeeter gets the idea to write down the stories of "The Help" of the town.
It's important to say that when the stories do start to spill out, not all of them are terrible. Plenty of the maids talk about the great kindnesses that their employers showed them. The book conveys the idea that the world in which it is set is a changing one. Not everyone is stuck in the terrible dark age of segregation. White people aren't demonized and black people aren't deified. The villain of the text is ignorance and narrow-mindedness. The hero of the piece is the bravery of the women to break their silences and just try to make a difference.
This is one of the best (of very many!) audiobooks I have listened to. The writing and narration are equally superb.The characters were brilliantly brought to life and, for a while, I felt privileged to be a part of their lives. Moving & haunting, the insight into the world of these women was both awesome and humbling.
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