The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings

A Novel

Book - 2014
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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.

This 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.
Publisher: New York : Viking, 2014
ISBN: 9780670024780
Characteristics: 373 p. --


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Aug 24, 2018

I am mortified that I did not know about the Grimke sisters until I read this book. The dual storylines of Sarah and Handful were very effective in revealing the attitudes toward slaves in both the North and the South and how radical the abolitionist movement was in the early 19th century. The recurring theme of wings was relevant to both women and gave heart to the story. High marks to the author for including the note at the end to give us details on how the story was modified to facilitate the flow of the novel. Highly recommended!

Aug 11, 2018

Another well told story by Sue Monk Kidd

Jun 19, 2018

I have read a number of books around the topic of slavery. Hands down this one is the most amazing! Painted more human, ON BOTH SIDES then anything I have read! Tragic, Funny, Sad, and Triumphant all in turns!

Jun 13, 2018

This was an exciting read that held my interest all the way through. I wish there was more time to dedicate to Sarah Grimke's career as an abolitionist, but I highly recommend the book.

patcumming Feb 09, 2018

I love reading books about a history that I didn't previously know. Kidd's portrayal of Grimke sisters is an engaging read. Highly recommended.

Dec 13, 2017

An interesting historical fiction about slavery. I learned a lot about the issues of slavery and women's rights. I had never heard about the Grimke sisters.

ArapahoeCynthiaK Oct 17, 2017

Slavery lived thru the eyes of the plantation owner's daughter, Sarah, and the slave, Handful, who was her 11th birthday present. Both of their stories are compelling and heartfelt. Really loved that Sarah's story was based on a real person. Also enjoyed the idea of story quilts as a pictorial diary. For more information, see PBS' The Abolitionists.

Oct 17, 2017

When Sarah Grimke is given Hetty, aka Handful, as her personal slave on her 11th birthday, she begins her lifelong journey towards freedom for both Handful and herself. Spanning the years 1803 to 1838, the reader is swept along on Sarah's journey to abolish slavery and find intellectual and economic freedom for herself. This novel, based on historical records, details the laws and methods used to control the slave economy in the South while also fighting the growing abolitionist movement in the North. This is a mesmerizing read that details our not so glorious past that still has repercussions in today's divided America. The novel is the October 2017 selection of the Willa Cather Book Club.

Jul 07, 2017

The story of Sara, Nina and Handful evolves around a background of slavery in the U.S. Their lives evoke feelings of rage and revulsion over the absolute misery that these people endured. Historical fact, intermingled with fiction, makes an excellent read. Would recommend it to anyone who wishes to look back on this issue.

Apr 11, 2017

I love a fictional tale wrapped around a real life situation and I thought this one was well researched, powerful and engrossing. I learned so much from this book and enjoyed every minute of it.

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Aug 19, 2015

biographical fiction, 11 yr old given a slave. Story over 35 yrs.

mathmami Jun 21, 2014



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