Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Book Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Description from Goodreads
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.
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.
This book earned my first 5 star rating of 2014.
This was the new Oprah Book Club pic, and that's how I found out about it. I don't read all of Oprah's book club pics (I haven't in quite awhile, actually), but this seemed like something I would really enjoy. And I did.
The book is mainly about Hetty "Handful" and Sarah. Sarah is given Handful on her 11th birthday as a handmaiden, but promptly asks to have her freed. She is denied this request, but promises that, one day, she will free Handful. The book follows their lives and families through 35 years.
This book is a slow burn; it's a dip-your-toe-in-the-shallow-end type of book. But it is worth every single page turn to get through it.
It is loosely based on the true story of Sarah and Nina Grimke, but it is a completely fictional novel. Just based around facts that exist. And I find that very fascinating, and stayed up way too late reading about the both of them after I finished this novel.
There is really so, so much I want to say about Hetty, about her mother Charlotte (especially Charlotte, and her wonderful quilt), and about Sarah. And Sarah's sister, Nina. But this is where I find book reviews to be difficult- I don't want to say anything at all. Because this is the kind of book you need to sit down with, possibly with a cup of tea, and just devour. Trust me. Read the description and you will know if this book is for you. Then get it, and enjoy.
You can purchase a hardcover copy of this book here, or a copy for Kindle here. Or, you can do what I did and borrow it from your local library!
FTC: I borrowed this book from my local library. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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