Alexandra Shelley

Illuminated Manuscripts


"Iíve been working with Alexandra Shelley for ten years, starting with my first novel, which we used for on-the-job training. With her guidance, I practiced the craft of fiction writing, from constructing a scene to birthing characters who readers would not only believe, but care something about. It was grueling but it was worth it because when Aibileenís voice came to me -- which was the genesis of 'The Help' -- I was ready.

"Writing a novel can be a lonely business. Having a first reader who knew when to cheer and when to meddle kept me going through five years and I-donít-know-how-many drafts of 'The Help.' For part of that time, I was also in Alexandraís writing workshop, where I watched other books take shape, a weekly dose of inspiration.

"Alexandra helped me get to know my characters and to convey what they were up against, frequently reminding me that Jackson, Mississippi, in that era would be a foreign country to most readers, even though it was so familiar to me. She encouraged me to plumb my memory, research still more, and then let my imagination soar.

"Having a literary advisor who works in publishing has a practical side too. From the first chapters of the novel, she helped me believe I could produce a publishable book, and after Iíd finally written the last chapter, she convinced me I had done it and shooed me in the direction of the agent who took it on. I am so thankful that I found a mentor who shares my passion for bringing the truth of fiction into the world."

-Kathryn Stockett

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

-New York Times bestseller for the past 55 weeks, including many weeks at #1

-Translated into 40 languages

-USA Today best book of 2009

-Upcoming movie from Spielberg's DreamWorks Studios

Edited by Alexandra Shelley working independently with the author for five years, including developmental editing, line editing, referral to agent. Ms. Shelley is currently working with the author on her second novel.


"At turns hilarious and heart-wrenching...[A] pitch-perfect rendering. Readers are hooked." -Associated Press

"Thought-provoking...[Stockett's] pitch-perfect depiction of a country's gradual path toward integration will pull readers into a compelling story that doubles as a portrait of a country struggling with racial issues...This is already one of the best debut novels of the year." -USA Today

"[A] wise, poignant novel...You'll catch yourself cheering out loud." -People Magazine

"In 'The Help,' Kathryn Stockett's button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel...The two principal maid characters...leap off the page in all their warm, three dimensional glory. Book groups armed with hankies will talk and talk...[A] winning novel." -The New York Times

"Graceful and real, a compulsively readable story. When folks at your book club wonder what to read next month, go on and pitch this wholly satisfying novel with confidence. A-" -Entertainment Weekly

"[A] story with heart and hope....A good old-fashioned novel." -New York Daily News

"Powerful...[Stockett's] attention to historical detail, dialect and characterization create a beautiful portrait of a fragmenting world...This heartbreaking story is a stunning debut from a gifted talent." -Atlanta Journal Constitution

New Orleans Times-Picayune:
"[A] winning novel, sure to be a wild success with book clubs. Warm and inviting." -New Orleans Times-Picayune


Publishers Weekly (starred review):

What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn's new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing "about what disturbs you." The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies--and mistrusts--enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it.

Library Journal (starred review):

Set in Stockett's native Jackson, MS, in the early 19060s, this first novel adopts the complicated theme of blacks and whites living in a segregated South. A century after the Emancipation Proclamation, black maids raised white children and ran households but were paid poorly, often had to use separate toilets from the family, and watched the children they cared for commit bigotry. In Stockett's narrative, Miss Skeeter, a young white woman, is a naive, aspiring writer who wants to create a series of interviews with local black maids. Even if they're published anonymously, the risk is great; still, Aibileen and Minny agree to participate. Tension pervades the novel as its event are told by these three memorable women. Is this an easy book to read? No, but it is surely worth reading. It may even stir things up as readers in Jackson and beyond question their own discrimination and intolerance in the past and present.

Selected Books Edited

by Kathryn Stockett - bestseller
by Martha Hall Kelly - bestseller
by Emily Giffin - bestseller
by Alan Isler - National Jewish Book Award winner