The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
I mean there's been a film hasn't there and still I've somehow missed it all.
It was only the news from the Happy Campers and their other book group, that The Help had been their top-rated read, that made me pick it up and give it a go.
I don't even know why I had thought I wouldn't like it.
Or what had put me off in the past, but a lovely new edition arrived ages ago with a quilted cover design and so the planets aligned eventually.
I am sure you all know of the book...
Jackson, Mississippi in the early sixties. A young woman returns from college, wonders where the black maid who raised her has gone and starts to make forbidden friendships across the colour lines in order to find out. What she reveals is the madness of racial segregation and the persecution of the 'Helps' who whilst not clean enough to use the same toilet as a white family, or eat at the same table, or to use the same library, are perfectly capable of raising their children for them to save them the bother.
It's a book that exudes shock and horror, fear and loathing but also warmth and friendship and in some cases unquestionable loyalty in the face of extreme provocation.
I was so engrossed I made no notes, but the book is deeply embedded in my mind and will stay there.
When the 'Helps' agree to tell their stories for a book that may be published, all the fears and dangers are thrown into clear relief and I found it harder and harder to believe that this has all happened in my lifetime.
How could this possibly be?
I am sure many of you have read The Help and if so I would love to know your thoughts...
Did the book ambush you as much as it did me, and even though you may have known the facts...
Has it left a deep impression...
And whilst The Help is based on events in America, nor is our copybook unsullied here in the UK of course as Small Island by Andrea Levy proved.
Goodness, we still need books like this to be written and read.