I was first encouraged to read this book by a friend of mine who usually does not like fiction, so I thought I would give it a try. As a woman of color I found it particularly difficult to slog through. Some of the depictions of how the black housemaids were treated made me want to cringe. In fact it did more than that, it made me revisit my activist and start up some sort of campaign. I had to remind myself that I wasn't in fact in the 1950s and that this was not my life. This book was very engaging because it made me feel on a visceral level.
It's not the sort of book that lectures to you about the human condition, but makes you feel it. It's what my american literature professor would call literature of experiential politics. By taking you on a journey through the eyes of a group of very different women, you are moved on emotional and political level. It's the sort of novel which in a different, less apathetic time would have moved people to action. the author takes on a political endeavor not by telling you what's wrong, but by showing you. The sad reality is that most people's view on how hired help should be treated hasn't evolved all that much. I made a trip to Ethiopia back in February and this book reminded me of how the maids were treated there. So, it's not just an issue of race, but one of class.
This a book written in a manner that can reach the masses and the author does so with humor and style that manages to get under your skin.
On a ten-point scale, I would definitely rate it an 8.