Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Help and Woman's World

The holiday craziness is over! This weekend I had time to sit down and read for what feels like the first time in December. We had a great season here at the store, although I would've been fine with a few inches less of snow. I read two books set in the early sixties this weekend, but they could not have been more different.

Woman's World by Graham Rawle is a work of extreme creativeness and skill. Rawle built his book using 40,000 text fragments from early 1960s British women's magazines. The story itself centers around 29-year-old Roy Little who has a house-bound sister named Norma. The narrative alternates between Norma and Roy's point of view, but it soon becomes clear that the two may be not as they are first portrayed. When a murder occurs, Norma must decide if she is brave enough to survive the aftermath.

This book is very, very difficult to explain. I'm still reeling from all the twists and turns, but it is laugh-out-loud funny and Rawle does a marvelous job with the texts he culled. If you need something that has depth, but is still light and entertaining this is the book for you.

The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett will be published February 10, 2009. I got my hands on an advanced copy and I devoured it in three long sittings. In The Help Stockett portrays the lives of three women, two black and one white, living in Mississippi in the early 1960s. Stockett's characters are so vividly drawn I felt like they were walking around my living room as I was reading the book.

Readers of this book will fall in love with Abilene, Minny and Skeeter and they will gain new persepective of the tensions that existed in Mississippi during the early 1960s. When Skeeter, a recent college graduate, and Abiliene and Minny, two maids, decide to work together on a dangerous, secret project they discover difficult truths about themselves, their friends and families.

I don't want to write too much about what happens because part of the joy of the book is the tension and suspense that lives on each and every page. This is one of the best novels by a first author I have read in a long time; I cannot recommend it enough.

- Angela

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