I just told a good friend that this has been one of the hardest books I’ve ever started but I read on. I am tenacious when it comes to literature and the characters, quite honestly, compelled me. Coming from the other side of the pond, as it were, with the book written in ‘colloquial speak’ from the south, it was extremely hard for me to get into. I am so glad I persisted.
Written from the perspective of three different people, two black and one white, all women, this novel is about what life was like for black help in white households in the 1960s in Mississippi. Even though men play a relatively small role in this book I would not call it chick lit. It is at times very hard to read due to the blatant racism which is not relegated to either sex. There were many times I wished some of the white folk would just see sense; that different colour skin doesn’t make anyone better or worse. The ridiculous idea that black people are dirty or carry different disease plays a huge part in this story and quite honestly made me very angry. But that is the whole point of the book. In the 60s the American civil rights movement was going strong but in Mississippi things were still the same. The blacks were no longer slaves but many were woefully underpaid and abused. If they created a stir they would lose their jobs, their family members could lose theirs and depending upon who they ‘messed with’ their freedom was also at risk.
I won’t get up on a soap box right now but it is very tempting to do so, suffice it to say you should read this regardless of what colour you are or where you are from. Is it extremely naïve of me to believe that we should all live by the Golden Rule of do unto others as you would have them do unto you? I hope not.