2009, 1st edition; Amy Einhorn Books publishers, New York; hardbound in ivory and marigold boards with gilt lettering on cover and spine; quite good condition; previous owner's name written inside cover (can't see this unless dust jacket is removed); dust jacket good.
The Help is a 2009 novel by American author Kathryn Stockett. The story is about African Americans working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s.
A USA Today article called it one of the "summer sleeper hits". An early review in The New York Times notes Stockett's "affection and intimacy buried beneath even the most seemingly impersonal household connections" and says the book is a "button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said of the book: "This heartbreaking story is a stunning début from a gifted talent."
Stockett began writing the novel — her first — after the September 11th attacks. It took her five years to complete and was rejected by 60 literary agents, over a period of three years, before agent Susan Ramer agreed to represent Stockett. The Help has since been published in 35 countries and three languages. As of August 2011, it had sold seven million copies in print and audiobook editions, and spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.
The Help is set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, and told primarily from the first-person perspectives of three women: Aibileen Clark, Minny Jackson, and Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan. Aibileen is a maid who takes care of children and cleans. Her own 24-year-old son, Treelore, died from an accident on his job. In the story, she is tending the Leefolt household and caring for their toddler, Mae Mobley. Minny is Aibileen's friend who frequently tells her employers what she thinks of them, resulting in her having been fired from nineteen jobs. Minny's most recent employer was Mrs. Walters, mother of Hilly Holbrook.
Skeeter is the daughter of a white family who owns a cotton farm outside Jackson. Many of the field hands and household help are African Americans. Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from the University of Mississippi and wants to become a writer. Skeeter's mother wants her to get married, and thinks her degree is just a pretty piece of paper. Skeeter is curious about the disappearance of Constantine, her maid who brought her up and cared for her. Constantine had written to Skeeter while she was away from home in college saying what a great surprise she had awaiting her when she came home. Skeeter's mother tells her that Constantine quit and went to live with relatives in Chicago. Skeeter does not believe that Constantine would leave her like this; she knows something is wrong and believes that information will eventually come out. Everyone Skeeter asks about the unexpected disappearance of Constantine pretends it never happened and avoids giving her any real answers.
The life Constantine led while being the help to the Phelan family leads Skeeter to the realization that her friends' maids are treated very differently from the way the white employees are treated...