This is a great read about black maids working in the still largely segregated Mississippi in the 1960s during the struggle for Civil Rights. This was given to me as a present when I went to buy a TV, I can’t get that to work but the book was good. I finished this page turner in three days despite having to work and in many ways it reminded me of the great Yankee Girl.
Abilene has spent her life been nanny to 17 white children, she is devoted to each one but ends up moving on as the children become older and indoctrinated by white supremacist beliefs. She tries to encourage them to become more tolerant such as telling them great stories about Martian Luther King who is discriminated against because he is green. She is friends with the bolshy Minny who talks back to her white bosses, she ends up working for Celia the “white trash” who all the so-called cultured ladies look down on, due to no-one wanting to employ her after being falsely accursed of stealing the silver. Both maids become involved with Skeeter, a white college graduate who is trying to find out what happened to her beloved black maid who has mysteriously disappeared.
The story attempts to tell the story of life in the South in the context huge racial unrest, with James Meredith, the first black student fighting to be accepted in the University of Mississippi and the struggle to ensure de facto voting rights. The attitudes and events are obviously shocking to us today. The book has been criticised for the fact that only the black characters use southern dialect, especially as the book is written by a white southerner, however I felt that the use of dialect made the maids come to life and jump off the page moreso than the white characters. The end seemed to lose its drive and did seem slightly implausible but an enjoyable read overall.