Narrated by: Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, Cassandra Campbell
Publisher: Whole Story Audio Books
Synopsis: Old Miss Graduate Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan returns to her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi somewhat adrift. She no longer fits in with her old friends, both because they are married and she is not and because she has a somewhat different view of the world. Together with two coloured women Aibileen and Minnie Skeeter ends up writing a book featuring the stories of the hired help in the white houses. The lives of these women and those about whom they write will never be quite the same again.
My thoughts: This book was a bit slow getting started but once it did I couldn’t turn it off.
I really enjoyed this view of the changing south in the 1960s. The voices and experiences of the women seemed truly real. In some respects I could really connect with Skeeter (although I have a very different relationship with my mother). Like her I have often felt awkward and different. As a teenager and in my early twenties I just didn’t fit. The way her searching is portrayed feels very real to me. The change in her was one of the most moving things to me.
In addition to this the voices of the other women in the story felt very true. Their hopes and fears and experiences felt so very real to me. What little I know of the time period I felt that the stories and experiences were really authentic. And that the relationship between the coloured women and the white women for whom they worked seemed like they could have happened.
There were times in the book where I giggled and times when I wanted to cry. There were also times when I really wanted to cringe. This was especially when I wanted to characters to just SAY something (Minnie and Miss Celia spring to mind here).
Overall I loved the message of everyone’s worth being equal. That the lines we draw between people are upheld by people and it is up to us to stop drawing these lines.
I’m having a really hard time writing this review because I loved the book but can’t actually quite articulate why. I guess it boils down to everything feeling authentic and to the likeability of the characters. That and the fact that the message didn’t feel heavy handed.
The Audio Production: I thought the audio production was really well done. I have in the past been really sceptical about books with multiple narrators but after The Help and Room have have begun to realise that multiple narrators can really help lift the book. In addition the multiple narrators really help at the start of the book when, at least I, need some reminders as to who is telling what story. I will also admit that I now have a southern voice running through my head.
I am really looking forward to seeing the movie, and not just because one of my all time favourite actresses has a role in it (Allison Janney).