Kathryn Stockett's book The Help has been hugely popular with individual readers and book clubs. Many of us of...ahem...a certain age well remember the era of civil rights strife, and of women taking tentative steps to break free from the strictures of 1950s society.
My book club read this book, and as enjoyable as the story was, it made me slightly uneasy. Exactly whose story was this to tell?
I still have no answers to that question, but it's interesting to see that others have concerns, and what shape those concerns take. The woman upon whom the character of one of the maids in the story is based has filed a lawsuit against the author. Ablene Cooper finds the parallels between herself and the maid in the book a bit too close for comfort. According to the New York Times,
"In the complaint, Ms. Cooper argues that one of the book’s principal characters, Aibileen Clark, is an unauthorized appropriation of her name and image, which she finds emotionally distressing.
It is more complicated than that. For the past dozen years, Ms. Cooper has worked – and still works – for Ms. Stockett’s brother and sister-in-law."
Issues pile upon issues.... Race is still a lightning rod, even in a feel-good book.