Whilst my reading of the Classics is skipping along merrily, my reading of anything else seems to have ground to almost a complete halt.
I couldn’t even tell you why this is – I guess there’s been quite a lot of stitchery going on at the moment, maybe that’s kept me busy, who knows?
Anyhoo March’s line-up looks something like this:
1. The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
2. Divas Don’t Knit - Gil McNeil
3. The Help - Kathryn Stockett
4. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
Divas Don’t Knit was sent to me by the marvellous Clare and came at a more than brilliant time. I needed a break from Classic-ing out all over the place and nothing says “Break” more than “chick-lit about wool”.
In a nutshell?
Woman’s husband dies, her and her children move to the seaside and she takes over the running of a wool shop. As you do. Everything all turns out well. The end.
I’m not being disparaging here – just relating the basic facts of the story, and in fact, as these sorts of books go, this was pretty good. Engaging, funny, it ticked all the right boxes for me at that point in time. And I even have the second book to move on to when I need another break from the heavier stuff I’ve been reading.
The Help has been on my bookshelf for a criminally long time and I have been meaning to read it, especially as reviews seemed to pour in from everywhere with people raving about it.
Sometimes, with a book it’s hard to pin down exactly what it is that grabs you and draws you in – is it the characters? The storyline? The background? Or an amalgamation of everything? The story itself was interesting and the characters were...ok...but for me it was more the subject Kathryn Stockett had decided to tackle – namely the issue of racism in 1960s Mississippi.
The Help is told by 3 people – Aibileen and Minny – both servants working for high society ladies, and Miss Skeeter – part of the group of high society ladies, but one with a conscience.
Miss Skeeter sets out to write down the stories as told by The Help around her small town – Aibileen and Minny are two of the contributors and persuade others to take part. The story revolves around this basic plotline, whilst providing an insight into the lives of these three women.
I am struggling to say more about it, I did really enjoy it and thoroughly concur with all the other people who have said that they liked it but I am finding it incredibly difficult to pin down and tell you the things I really liked. What I did find myself doing was putting the book down every so often and just reminding myself that this wasn’t that long ago. We’re not talking about a hundred years ago, we’re talking a couple of generations. I can’t even begin to understand how people could think and behave in such abhorrent ways.
What I like is that Stockett doesn’t over-simplify a situation which it would have been all too easy to do so. She, if you will excuse a poor taste pun, doesn’t put things in black and white – there are shades of grey in between and no character is one dimensional – it would have been easy to slot people into caricatures and deal with the subject that way instead.
I did feel the ending was a little disappointing. I don’t always need things tied up with a pretty little bow and this certainly isn’t one of those, but nor do I love endings which just stop abruptly, as I feel this did. It was as if she had imposed a word limit and, upon approaching it, just stopped writing.
Well worth picking up.
Book of the month? Well I did love The Help but I’m afraid The Moonstone holds a special place in my heart.