Thursday 4 April 2019

Kidd, Sue Monk "The Invention of Wings"

Kidd, Sue Monk "The Invention of Wings" - 2014

Until now, I only read "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. That was a book club read and I enjoyed it very much.

Having said that, I enjoyed this book even more. The story is based on the real life of two sisters who, at the beginning of the 19th century, fought not only for the abolition of slavery but also for the equality of women. I had never heard of them but was very impressed with their work.

Growing up in the house of slave owners, growing up with slaves, Sarah and Nina/Angelina Grimké come to despise the way the slaves are treated. They both end up in the North and their story is very powerful. In addition, the author has added the story of Charlotte and Hetty "Handful", a slave woman and her daughter and that way woven all the stories in from the other side. Great combination. Taking turns, Sarah and Handful talk about their lives. It is very different from the life we lead nowadays though we know there are still a lot of women around who don't have the freedom and education we have.

For example, Sarah teaches Handful to read. This also happened in real life. They are both severely punished.

People who still believe that the colour of our skin is the main contributor what defines us, should definitely read this.

I'm not surprised Oprah chose this for her book club. It represents everything she stands for.

Just a brilliant novel.

From the back cover:

"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."


  1. Oh, I thought this book was just fabulous! Here is my review:
    Your review is excellent.

    1. So is yours, I couldn't have written it any better or wouldn't have said anything differently than you did.

      And it certainly is a fabulous book.