Monday, September 28, 2015

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd Book Review

Title: The Invention of Wings
Date Published: May 15, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal Library


From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a #1 New York Times bestselling 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.The polarizing literary debut by Scottish author Ian Banks, The Wasp Factory is the bizarre, imaginative, disturbing, and darkly comic look into the mind of a child psychopath.

 This one was reviewed by Tim

The Invention of Wings is a coming of age tale about a slave girl, "Handful", and her owner Sarah as well as a history lesson about the time between the early to middle part of the 1800's.

Sarah Grimke is the youngest daughter of a very powerful and well to do family in Charleston. For her 11th birthday, Sarah receives Hetty, better known as Handful, as her handmaid. This is a most unwelcome gift for Sarah. She doesn't want her own slave and tries desperately to give her back. But times being what they were, Handful becomes Sarah's cross to bear. 

The story follows the two women through adolescence and into adulthood and shows the struggles that each of them face. Sarah longs for love but is quite an independent spirit. She battles with both of these strong feelings and in the end her choice is surprising, but given the personality of Sarah, understandable.

Handful's journey to adulthood is much the same as Sarah's. Difficult choices had to be made, some that were life or death, but all the while both ladies wanted the same things...freedom.

The bond that was forged by Sarah and Handful and the heart stopping ending that showed the love and respect they had for each other made this a very enjoyable read. 

Sue Monk Kidd's first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, spent more than one hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold nearly six million copies, and was chosen as the 2004 BookSense Paperback Book of the Year and Good Morning America's "Read This!" Book Club pick. It was adapted into an award-winning movie in 2008. Her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, a #1 New York Times bestseller, won the 2005 Quill Book Award for Best General Fiction and was adapted into a television movie. Her novels have been published in more than thirty countries. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs and the recipient of many awards, including a Poets & Writers Award. She lives near Charleston, South Carolina.

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