The big changes were in the ending. Skeeter's end was the same in both - she lost the boyfriend but got a job in New York. But in the book, the break up with the boyfriend is more traumatic. In the book, Minnie's husband kicks her out because of her participation with the book. In the movie, she got the courage to leave him. And in the book, Abilene loses her job like she did in the movie. But Skeeter confesses to her editor that Abilene has been writing the Miss Myrna column all along, and she gets hired to take over the column when Skeeter moves to New York. So in the book, each woman has life as she knows it destroyed, but then rebuilt better than it was before. In the movie, they all get to the same end game (except we know Abilene is going to write - we're not told what she's writing) but don't go through the same destruction of life before they get there.