The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
I maybe shouldn’t have started this one so soon after finishing The Wedding Gift because there were some similarities, but this book was different in that Sarah Grimke was a real person. The other similarity between The Wedding Gift and this book was the slave, Handful, was always hoping to escape she and her mama saved money so that they could finally get away and be free. But of course things don’t work out as hoped.
Sarah was so far ahead of her time that when she was gifted a slave on her 12th birthday she asked her daddy for remuneration paper so she could free said slave when she turned of age. As she grew older she was also not only an abolitionist but also suffragette at this time in our country's history these two and hand-in-hand.
There were times in this book when I wanted something happy to happen, just anything even a tiny thing but it never did. But this is probably more true to the real circumstances of these women’s lives.
I love Sue Monk Kidd’s writing and this was a good story if not at all happy. This book also had real people so I had a lot of fun researching after I was done. I loved the alternating chapters between Sarah & Handful because sometimes the same event was seen so differently from each woman’s viewpoint it was very fascinating.
Fans of southern fiction won’t want to miss this one. I also learned a lot about Sarah Grimke that I never knew because I had never heard of her and that is sad because she did some amazing work.