When help is not appreciated…
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A very touching book about the coloured maids in the 60s in Mississippi. Although I’m not a US citizen, having lived in Texas made a distinct connection which lead to a slight interest in taking this book brom WH Smiths at the London Victoria station when I got there too early on a Sunday morning for the clothes shops to open! I did not know until after reading and doing some research that this book was such a bestseller in the States.
The only reason it lacks a star is I’m generally not very generous with stars (5 feels like too…perfect to me!) and I found the ending slightly abrupt although I can’t imagine a better way to do it myself!
Although I spent most of my childhood in Korea, our family also had a maid who lived in the house in a tiny bedroom (which was barely big enough for 1 person to lay down, but it was in the heart of Seoul. one of the most densely populated area of the world)
There was a time when the maids seem to change somewhat too rapidly for a house with a busy working mum (who commuted 2 hours every day) and confused little children to grow in but in retrospect, 2 maids I have fond memories of, one who I ran to during thunderstorms instead towards my mom, which did nothing but add to the reasons why my mom despised her (and the list includes us kids getting thin and having signs of malnutrition while the maid got so plump and shiny) The other was and old lady who I tried so hard to teach to read and write when I’d just barely started going to school. My mom recalls she would not stop repeating her story of being divorced by her husband just because they couldn’t have babies. The story being compulsively repeated not only out of bitterness but also in hope to spend the rest of her life with our family-when in reality all 4 of my grandparents were alive and my mom had enough elderly people to attend to on top of all her other family and professional duties.
Interesting is how even nowadays, there is a lot of subtle AND crude discrimination perhaps not based entirely on race, but on wealth of an individual or the country the individual is from. Being a Korean, I know too well (or maybe not enough) about the type of xenophobia the Korean people have and the ridiculous sense of superiority towards south-east asian people who willingly come to Korea do the low-wage work average Koreans now avoid and could we be confident in saying what goes in our head is nothing like what’s going on in Miss Hilly’s mind? Having written this, now I feel that I have been Elisabeth Leefolt, not having a clue that the chapter she’s been reading was in fact about herself.
Update: This book is now made into a film! I’m seriously thinking of going..or not? (read my recent post on this)