It was never expected to be read by anyone according to its author. Forty-five literary agents rejected it and its subject matter was deemed “alienating”. But sometimes a book is so cleverly crafted and ignites such affection and connection with its characters– despite being set in a decade and political landscape a million miles from our own –that it goes on to sell more than 4 million copies, in three languages and stays on The New York Times bestseller list for over a year.
Such is the case with Kathryn Stockett’s The Help – a 2009 novel which explores the relationships between black maids and their white employers in pre-civil rights Mississippi in the early Sixties. Now the book which provided engaging reading fodder for commutes, beach holidays and insomnia has been made into a film.
Just the words ‘book adaptation’ are enough to make many literary fans nervous – so many before have tarnished the characters created on the page. But after watching a preview of the film (which isn’t out in the UK until late October), Stylist can reassure you that of all the big book adaptations on the horizon – Lone Scherfig’s take on One Day and Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin – The Help is the most loyal to the author’s pages.
With rising star Emma Stone as Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan, and a very funny turn from Octavia Spencer as Minny, it’s Viola Davis’ role as bereaved mother and maid Aibileen Clark, who will really win your heart, just as she does in the book. Add a perfectly nostalgic colourful Sixties decor and you have one of the most exciting, eagerly anticipated films of the year.
The Help is out 28 October. Watch the official trailer for The Help here.