Bring A Friend Night was definitely a success! A record-breaking 16 women showed up to discuss The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
- This month is Bring A Friend Month. Did you invite someone? Also, remember to RSVP, I’m going early to block off our seats at Paradise.
- On Thursday one lucky person will win next month’s book, Happy To Be Here by Garrison Keillor.
- For a chance to win a $10 giftcard to Amazon to buy more books leave a comment and share your reading goal for 2012.
1. Who was your favorite character? Why?
2. What do you think motivated Hilly? On the one hand she is terribly cruel to Aibileen and her own help, as well as to Skeeter once she realizes that she can’t control her. Yet she’s a wonderful mother. Do you think that one can be a good mother but, at the same time, a deeply flawed person?
3. Like Hilly, Skeeter’s mother is a prime example of someone deeply flawed yet somewhat sympathetic. She seems to care for Skeeter–and she also seems to have very real feelings for Constantine. Yet the ultimatum she gives to Constantine is untenable; and most of her interaction with Skeeter is critical. Do you think Skeeter’s mother is a sympathetic or unsympathetic character? Why?
4. How much of a person’s character would you say is shaped by the times in which they live?
5. Did it bother you that Skeeter is willing to overlook so many of Stuart’s faults so that she can get married, and that it’s not until he literally gets up and walks away that the engagement falls apart?
6. Do you believe that Minny was justified in her distrust of white people?
7. Do you think that had Aibileen stayed working for Miss Elizabeth, that Mae Mobley would have grown up to be racist like her mother? Do you think racism is inherent, or taught?
8. From the perspective of a twenty-first century reader, the hairshellac system that Skeeter undergoes seems ludicrous. Yet women still alter their looks in rather peculiar ways as the definition of “beauty” changes with the times. Looking back on your past, what’s the most ridiculous beauty regimen you ever underwent?
9. The author manages to paint Aibileen with a quiet grace and an aura of wisdom about her. How do you think she does this?
10. Do you think there are still vestiges of racism in relationships where people of color work for people who are white? Have you heard stories of parents who put away their valuable jewelry before their nanny comes? Paradoxically, they trust the person to look after their child but not their diamond rings?
11. What did you think about Minny’s pie for Miss Hilly? Would you have gone as far as Minny did for revenge?
The Help is the first novel for this month’s author, Kathryn Stockett, and as her career as a novelist is just beginning, there is little fodder for this month’s post.
However, she used her own childhood experiences in writing the story, and she wrote a bit about how her childhood compared to the novel as a postscript. I think. I already gave my copy away to someone else to read so I can’t say for sure. But assuming you have a copy yourself, you should just go ahead and read that part at the end. I remember enjoying it, so I’m sure you will, too!
I can’t wait to see what she will write next. I imagine she’s feeling a lot of pressure in that regard since her first novel has been on the NY Times Bestseller list for more than 100 weeks. I’m reminded of a TED talk that I really enjoy by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) on Nurturing Creativity that she gave in the aftermath of her own success. This is my advice to you, Kathryn, and I hope we can read more from you in the years to come!
I hope you’ll join us for our discussion on January 12th at 7pm at the Paradise Bakery at Hamilton Town Center. This month is “Bring a Friend” month, and somebody will win a copy of next month’s book at the discussion!
For one summer during college I worked at a country club in one of the ritziest suburbs of Columbus, Ohio. I worked in the “play room” where I essentially babysat the country club members’ kids while they ate lunch, went to the pool, or attended a workout class. I didn’t mind watching the kids (most days), but I definitely felt like a second-class citizen working there. We could only enter through the laundry room door (never the front), we had to stay as out-of-the-way as possible and cut through the locker rooms to get to other places in the building instead of walking through the halls, and on really busy days at the club like the Fourth of July, we had to park out in a field and walk about a half a mile to the building so the members and their guests could use the staff parking spots. We were expected to try really hard to address all of the members by name, but I had people whose kids I watched very regularly who would introduce their kids to me every time they were dropped off, which showed they didn’t even notice the same person was watching their children over and over again. Later, when I would tell people of my experiences working there, I would jokingly refer to the myself and my fellow staff members as “the help,” since it seemed like that was how the members viewed us.
Although I had that summer feeling like “the help,” my experience pales in comparison to the characters in our January book, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, the book focuses on the relationships of several African-American maids and their white employers. For the maids, their employment is more than just a summer college job—they have few options to do much else. They also have to deal with a culture where racism is deeply embedded, which affects how they are treated in their work. The book tells of what happens when the daughter of one of the prominent white families in the town begins to realize how differently her friends’ maids are treated from the ways white people are treated.
So what about you? Have you had an experience that helped you identify on some level with the characters in The Help? If you’ve finished the book already, what do you think? If you haven’t gotten the book yet, there’s still some time to put it on your Christmas list. We hope you can come join us on January 12 at 7 p.m. at Paradise Bakery and Café at Hamilton Town Center. Don’t forget that it’s also “Bring a Friend Month.” This is the perfect book to get someone plugged into the Book Club. We can’t wait to see you all there.