Will the real Aibileen please stand up, or, did Kathryn Stockett have “help” with “The Help?”

From all published accounts and from Bloggers in the know, the film adaptation of the phenomenally popular book The Help by Atlanta author Kathryn Stockett, is a Hollywood hit (cha-ching$)!  But no “new”news here folks.  We expected that outcome.  Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Allison Janney are uncompromising actors.

A couple of years back, Precious Child I gave me the book as a birthday present.  And like many readers, I was fascinated by the setting, circumstances and the book’s story line.  I finished the book in a 48 hour cycle.  A good read.  Worthy of  the Big Screen.  Yes (some say No)?  I say No.  Not enough time and not enough space to explain.  But this is not about me.

But by now you know The Recovering Attorney.  If there’s a chink in the armor, a ripple under the smooth surface, an irregular stitch on the seemingly perfect hem, I will spot it and blog about the same and if there’s a legal angle—I am on it….and in the case of The Help, it appears as if there is a chink in the armor and Kathryn Stockett has “caught a case.”     Please do read on……

Ms. Stockett is being sued by Ablene Cooper.  Ms. Cooper is the former Jackson, Mississippi maid of Kathryn Stockett’s brother and sister-in-law!  Ms. Cooper began working for the family in 1998 (Not long ago Dear Readers.  What were you doing in 1998?  Pursuing your BA, MA, PhD, MD or JD–welcome to the real world.   Ms. Cooper’s world)–Ms. Cooper’s mother was a maid and in 1975 when Ms. Cooper began working as a maid, her first job was caring for the family that her mother had worked for.  But I digress.

Ms. Cooper began working for the author’s brother just three months after she lost her youngest son to leukemia (didn’t the “fictional” Aibileen lose her son?).  Ms. Cooper though still grieving, was in need of the work.

In the lawsuit, where Ms. Cooper is seeking a (paltry) $75,000 in damages (who is her attorney?), Ms. Cooper asserts that the book humiliated her because the story line brought up unpleasant memories—the loss of her son AND that in the book, Stockett compared the “fictional” character Aibileen’s skin color to that of a cockroach.  Ablene Cooper maintains that she feels as if Stockett invaded her privacy and exposed the world to the most awful times in her life.

In past interviews, Stockett has asserted that she wrote The Help as part of a writing club.  And that she used names of people she knew simply because they were handy (that’s an admission to this Recovering Attorney that aspects of the book were “borrowed”…..).    To quote Stockett directly—“when I was writing this book, I never thought that anyone else would read it, so I didn’t get real creative with the names (or apparently the story line either).”  “I just used people I knew.”  “Some of them aren’t talking to me right now, but I feel like they will come around (around the same time that the settlement funds are wired into Ms. Cooper’s bank account perhaps?).”

BTW, Stockett has repeatedly referred to her book as a work of fiction ( I am certain that Ms. Cooper would call the book an adaptation of her life).  Furthermore, Stockett said that she finally worked up the guts to show the book to her mother and her writing group….”I was terrified when I realized it was going to be published (I would be terrified too if I allegedly “borrowed” someone else’s story for commercial gain, exposed said person’s private, intimate affairs to the world, gained fame and fortune in the telling of said person’s private, intimate affairs AND all the while I failed to seek the permission, approval or compensate said person for their story—I am just saying!).”

Oh yeah.  I almost forgot.   Did you see the movie yet?

The Recovering Attorney’s note:  The above editorial is just that an editorial.  Kathryn Stockett and or Amy Einhorn, whose imprint published The Help, has stated that they don’t believe there is any basis to the legal claims.  Translation:  The above editorial contains mere allegations.  None of Ms. Cooper’s allegations have been proven in a court of law.

COPYRIGHT 2011.  The Recovering Attorney Un-Blog(tm).  All Rights Reserved.  And I will sue.  Ha!

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