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The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
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The Invention of Wings (2014)

by Sue Monk Kidd

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,4692612,292 (4.17)179
  1. 110
    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (readysetgo)
  2. 100
    The Help by Kathryn Stockett (readysetgo)
  3. 10
    Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (vwinsloe)
  4. 00
    The Book of Night Women by Marlon James (hoddybook)
    hoddybook: Both look at the horrors of slavery with an emphasis the womens lot.
  5. 00
    Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald (arrwa)
    arrwa: Story of struggle and survival.
  6. 00
    The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden (mybookshelf)
    mybookshelf: Both explore the relationship between a black slave girl and a privileged white girl.
  7. 00
    Property by Valerie Martin (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Both of these dramatic novels explore the troubled relationships between slaves and slave owners in the American South using strong female protagonists, as well as exploring the issues all women faced during this dark period in history.… (more)
  8. 00
    Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth (vwinsloe)
  9. 00
    Harriet and Isabella by Patricia O'Brien (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Strong female characters are central to these dramatic, emotional stories. Intertwining historical events with themes of slavery, women's rights, and family loyalties, both of these novels are told in alternating voices.
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    When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago (megk11676)
    megk11676: A memoir of a girl growing up in Puerto Rico and then in Brooklyn in the 1950's-1960's.
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Showing 1-5 of 261 (next | show all)
I loved The Secret Life of Bees so even though the topic of slavery in The Invention of Wings made me hesitate, I trusted author Sue Monk Kidd and I'm happy to discover she wrote another "must read" book. Based on two real-life sisters, this novel tells the story of a white girl and the slave she is given by her mother when they are both 11 years old. Most of the story takes place in Charleston, South Carolina and many of the events actually happened. I read this book for our book group, and our discussion was lively. It was interesting to hear how some of us interpreted the symbolism, how the various relationships resonated, and how the characters came alive. Read this book! ( )
  PhyllisReads | Apr 27, 2019 |
Gave me a perspective on what day-to-day life may have been for both slaves and slave owners. The warping of people and terrible price of slavery. The ways that people can so easily be inhuman to one another. Also how caring. What amazing people and struggles. Inspiring ultimately. I found myself irritated, especially in the beginning of the book, at the reimagining of these real figures in history, and wish they had been more fictionalized. ( )
  WendyLbird | Apr 12, 2019 |
A beautifully written story about slavery in the 1800's, trading chapter for chapter between Sarah Grimke and her handmaid/slave Hettie/Handful. The story begins when Sarah, a young daughter to slave owners in Charleston, South Carolina, witnesses a slave being whipped. The horror stays with her and molds who she is to become. She is shortly thereafter horrified when she is given Hettie for her 11th birthday, but her parents will not let her refuse the "gift".

Sarah and Hettie become something of friends over the years with Sarah doing what she can to help Hettie and the other slaves, including teaching Hettie to read: a criminal offense for which they are both punished once discovered.

The book spans nearly their entire lives following Sarah in her real life quest to not just free the slaves but make them equals, all while fighting the fact that she, as a woman, is not seen as an equal. And Hettie/Handful doing what she can to fight for her own freedom all the while being severely punished for any and all infractions.

The story, a fictional take on the true story of Sarah Grimke and her sister Angelina, as they become the most famous women in history at that time for their work for the abolitionist movement and by default, the women's rights movement. I did not realize the truth to this story until the author's notes at the end. I highly recommend this fascinating, yet horrifying, tale of one of the lowest points in human history. ( )
  she_climber | Apr 11, 2019 |
I had a couple of problems with this book. I felt that the writing was fine, but not stellar, and the characterization somewhat flat. The other thing is that I often have trouble reading books in which real historical people are characters. It is frustrating for me not to know what is real and what is imagined. Kidd does have an afterward that gives this information, and for the most part the book seems to be historically accurate.

This book features Sarah and Angelina Grimke, who were sisters from a slave-owning family in Charleston. Sarah was born in 1873. The Grimke story is amazing. The sisters became abolitionists and feminists, became Quakers, moved North, and worked with William Lloyd Garrison. Kidd's story focuses on Sarah, beginning in her childhood, and alternates chapters with the story of Hetty, or Handful, a slave who had been given to Sarah on her 11th birthday. Apparently, Sarah Grimke was given a slave named Hetty as a young girl, but the real life Hetty died in childhood. Kidd does do a really good describing what was like for both enslaved people and for slave-owners at that time and place. She shows the little (and not so little) ways that the enslaved people resisted their situation.

She also shows how even abolitionists and Quakers had limits in their "progressiveness." The Grimke sisters often ran across Quakers who wanted to end slavery, but not quite yet; and who were scandalized by the Grimke's belief that their should be equality between blacks and whites. Also, their feminism often got them into trouble. ( )
  banjo123 | Apr 8, 2019 |
A bit slow and steady at first for me, but worked it's way up from 3 stars to 4. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 261 (next | show all)
Both Handful and Sarah are admirable characters, though rather disappointingly so. Improbable allies are most engaging when they make life hard for each other and generally it takes them a while to find their common pulse. But Sarah empathizes so completely with Handful from the very beginning that we never get to doubt their innate sisterhood. While their identities as mistress and slave imply conflict, it’s not a conflict played out between them. Handful’s rich resentment is rarely directed at Sarah. How could it be? The actual Sarah Grimké may have been as earnest and honorable as she is here, but a little less righteousness might have furnished this story with a wider wingspan.
added by ozzer | editNew York Times, SUZANNE BERNE (Jan 24, 2014)
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Sandy Kidd
with all my love
First words
There was a time in Africa the people could fly.
Quotations
The truth, she said, is that every girl must have ambition knocked out of her for her own good. You are unusual only in your determination to fight what is inevitable. You resisted and so it came to this, to being broken like a horse.
Life is arranged against us, Sarah. And it's brutally worse for Handful and her mother and sister. We're all yearning for a wedge of sky, aren't we? I suspect God plants these yearnings in us so we'll at least try and change the course of things.
"Our slaves were happy," she would boast.  It never occurred to her their gaiety wasn't contentment, but survival.
I have one mind for the master to see.  I have another mind for what I know is me.
Color prejudice is at the bottom of everything.  If it's not fixed, the plight of the Negro will continue long after abolition.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Book description
Haiku summary
Two girls - pampered, slave
Both fighting to change their lives
They escape their bonds
(sushitori)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670024783, Hardcover)

From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:43 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"The story follows Hetty "Handful" Grimke, a Charleston slave, and Sarah, the daughter of the wealthy Grimke family. The novel begins on Sarah's eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership over Handful, who is to be her handmaid. "The Invention of Wings" follows the next thirty-five years of their lives. Inspired in part by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke (a feminist, suffragist and, importantly, an abolitionist), Kidd allows herself to go beyond the record to flesh out the inner lives of all the characters, both real and imagined"--… (more)

» see all 8 descriptions

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