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The Invention of Wings: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Jan 7 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 1st Edition edition (Jan. 7 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670024783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670024780
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3 x 24.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #35,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

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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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In "The Invention of Wings", author Sue Monk Kidd has deftly blended fact and fiction and has created a very compelling novel that I could not put down! The book is based on the life of Sarah Grimke (1792 –1873), the eighth of fourteen children of Mary and John F. Grimke of Charleston, South Carolina; a lawyer and judge, John Grimke was also a rich plantation owner who owned many slaves.

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”.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of those epic stories that you never want to end. No lapses into boredom, no gratuitous sex, but plenty of fact about two courageous women, the Grimke sisters, who changed the course of history. I always looked forward to knowing that I had this book to pick up and read during my day. Highly recommended.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group - Viking for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

** 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).
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the kind of book you read late into the night when the rest of your family is asleep! Just couldn't put it down!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent presentation of social injustice and insight into female heroes in the abolition of slavery. A well-researched novel. An important story of enlightenment that shows a dark side of U.S. history that brings an appreciation for broadening our understanding of the ongoing plight of racism in America.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
At the age of 11, young Sarah Grimmke is given her first slave, Handful. She shies away from the idea of owning someone, and tries unsuccessfully to free Handful. As the two girls grow, they each long to break the bonds imposed on them by society. Sarah eventually becomes an abolitionist and a feminist.

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.
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