The Invention of Wings: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Jan 7 2014
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Praise for The Invention of Wings
“A remarkable novel that heightened my sense of what it meant to be a woman – slave or free . . a conversation changer.” – Oprah Winfrey, O, The Oprah Magazine
“Exhilarating. . .powerful. . .By humanizing these formidable women, The Invention of Wings furthers our essential understanding of what has happened among us as Americans – and why it still matters.” – The Washington Post
“A textured masterpiece, quietly yet powerfully poking our consciences and our consciousness . . . leaves us feeling uplifted and hopeful.” – NPR
“A searing and soaring story of two women bound together as mistress and slave.” – USA Today
“Kidd has managed to avoid both condescension and cliché, creating an unforgettable character in the slave Handful, the emotional core of her utterly engaging third novel.” – The Boston Globe
“If this isn’t an American classic-to-be, I don’t know what is. . .this book is as close to perfect as any I’ve ever read.” – The Dallas Morning News
“A powerful story of rebellion and heroism. . .The remarkable courage and hope found in The Invention of Wings is a reminder that we all have those wings – and tells us a lot more about how we got them.” – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Kidd has done a marvelous job of capturing two special and vibrant voices. . . I can’t recall reading a book about slavery that presented in such vivid and heartbreaking detail just what the daily life and labor felt like.” – The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A total revelation. . .the book is balanced by two extraordinary women: real-life abolitionist and feminist Sarah Grimké and the imagined handmaiden Handful, who nearly leaps off every page.” – Patrick Bass, Essence
About the Author
Sue Monk Kidd is the award-winning and bestselling author of the novels The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs, including the New York Times bestseller Traveling with Pomegranates, written with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor. She lives in Florida.
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Top Customer Reviews
Two themes run through the book. The first is Sarah’s abhorrence of slavery and the second is the place of women within society at the time and Sarah’s dislike of restrictions placed upon her as a female. As a child, Sarah was aware that her education was inferior to that of her brothers; she and her sisters were taught by private tutors and only studied subjects deemed appropriate for young women at that time. She wanted to become a lawyer like her father but that was considered unacceptable for women in the early 19th century. Sarah’s early experiences, well described in "The Invention of Wings", helped shape her future as an abolitionist, feminist and writer.
The story is told in alternate voices, that of Sarah and that of Hetty (aka “Handful”), one of the family’s slaves. At the beginning of the book, Handful and her mother Charlotte, a slave who functions as the Grimkes’ seamstress, live together in slave quarters over the stable. Sarah’s parents give Handful (then age ten) to her as a gift for her eleventh birthday, to be Sarah’s personal maid. Even at this age, Sarah is repulsed by slavery, remembering that at age four she witnessed a slave being whipped, and she refuses this gift. Mrs. Grimke is shocked by Sarah’s “alien” ways; she believes that slavery is part of “their tradition”.Read more ›
** This book review, as well as many more, can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm (www.thebakingbookworm.blogspot.ca).
My Review: Slavery and the beginning of women's rights are a couple of weighty and emotional topics for one book to take on. The Invention of Wings has a lot to prove as it juggles these two issues, but ultimately it's a story about the friendship between a young white, privileged girl named Sarah Grimke and Hetty 'Handful', a black slave on the Grimke plantation.
The relationship between these two girls is the heart of the book as they each take turns to narrate their stories of struggle to gain freedom. One for her physical freedom and the other for her freedom from social and ethical constraints put upon her. I liked the fact that Handful and Sarah's relationship isn't an easy road and felt believable. It's not cut and dry or could ever be overly friendly for the time and atmosphere in which they lived. It was interesting to see how Sarah comes to understand the truth about slavery and how her views morph into something so much bigger than she could ever imagine. Admittedly, it wasn't a smooth road for Sarah and some of her motivations, influences and understandings as a young girl/young woman weren't always comfortable for me but I liked that they always feel authentic to the character and era.
There was a lot of research done for this book (since it loosely follows the lives of the real-life Grimke sisters).Read more ›
Based on the real historical characters of Sarah and Angelina Grimke, the story is beautifully told. The two narratives (that of Sarah and Handful) are compelling. Both are strong, intelligent women, constrained by society and circumstance.
I was, however, disappointed when the story switched focus from Sarah and Handful to Sarah and her sister Angelina. As the book progresses, Handful's story gets shorter and shorter in relation to Sarah's, until Handful is reduced to a simple motivating factor for Sarah. While Handful also acquires a younger sister, Sky, we never know much about her, apart from her talent for growing plants. She's more or less an appendage of Handful's.
"The Invention of Wings" does contain much historical information about slavery - most of it horrifying. As a story about an early abolitionist/feminist, it's inspiring. If it had been clear from the beginning that's what it was, I likely would have enjoyed it more.
If you're planning to read it, I suggest flipping to the back of the book and reading the author's historical notes first.
Most recent customer reviews
A well written story....I couldn't put it down and also enjoyed he authors notes.Published 1 month ago by Elle campbell
Avery good story. Made better by being based on historical fact. Holds your interest till the end.Published 2 months ago by catherine
I am very disappointed with Kindle's dictionary coming together with book. The idea to have a dictionary with the book is awesome, but without prounounciation of entries in the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by ontheroad
There are few books that grab your attention and your heart, quite like this one. It is historical and focuses on the relationship of one of the main characters and her... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This was purchased for a friend. The shipping and quality of the book was beyond what she had expected. Read morePublished 5 months ago by krysascwt
It was a treat to read such and engaging story. I enjoyed the wring and saved many lines as quotations to share. Read morePublished 6 months ago by JCP