Friday, January 10, 2014

"This wonderful novel pulled me in from the first paragraph and kept me enthralled." ~Cathy L.

From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women
Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world—and it is now the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

The Invention of Wings exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.
Cathy says:
"This wonderful novel pulled me in from the first paragraph and kept me enthralled. I love really fine historical fiction and The Invention of Wings is absolutely in that category.

In the city of Charleston, South Carolina in 1803 it was not uncommon for the daughter of a wealthy slave owner to be given the gift of a slave of her own as an 11th birthday gift. It was quite uncommon for that gift to be not only refused but for the daughter to compose a document of manumission to set her “gift” free. Thus begins Sue Monk Kidd's novel, The Invention of Wings and the story of Sarah Grimke, bright, inquisitive and horrified by slavery, and Hetty Handful Grimke, born a slave and yearning for freedom. Sarah and Handful narrate their stories in alternating chapters, their voices strong, their struggles heartbreaking, their lives made difficult because neither one, as a girl and then woman, is willing to accept her circumstances.

Richly evocative of the times and giving the reader insight into the lives of early 19th century women of the South, The Invention of Wings is Sue Monk Kidd at her storytelling best.

I only discovered that Sarah Grimke was a real historical figure after I finished the novel. Incredibly, though really not surprisingly, she was not mentioned in my American History textbooks. I won't give the story away by revealing her impact on history, but suffice to say she was a force to be reckoned with."

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