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The Invention of Wings (2014)

by Sue Monk Kidd

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,3032982,084 (4.15)202
"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)
Recently added byWalter_reads, kathrynwithak7, Rennie90, Aliannmarie, Ardys_Richards, private library
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    mybookshelf: Both explore the relationship between a black slave girl and a privileged white girl.
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    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)
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    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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    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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» See also 202 mentions

English (295)  German (3)  All languages (298)
Showing 1-5 of 295 (next | show all)
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.
  BLTSbraille | Sep 3, 2021 |
This might well be her best work. I'm a novice at this noveling business, but my eyes read differently than they used to, in the before. I read with the power of thousands of hours of writing and editing locked in my head. When I read assemblages of words, phrases and sentences well turned, something warms in my chest. Sue built momentum like a steamer bringing up its boiler pressure, and she brought it home with all the emotion one wishes to conjure in storytelling while laying it out with respect for the historical characters and horrid doings upon which she drew - and brought to life.

Bravo. ( )
  nelledouville | Jul 25, 2021 |
"History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another's pain in the heart of our own."

I appreciated the note at the end detailing how closely Kidd worked with historical materials. The history nerd in me held hands with the literature lover in me and together they skipped away into the sunset. (A sunset that was a bit too tidy for my liking, btw). ( )
  SamBortle | Jul 23, 2021 |
Kidd's novel is based on the true life story of sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimké who spoke openly in the 1830s in favor of liberty for African American slaves and equality for women. Born and raised in affluebt Charleston, SC, this books starts with Sarah being given her own slave, Hetty "Handful." It follows Handful and her mother's willful disobedience regarding slavery, and Sarah's own anti-slavery feelings, which essentially disenfranchise her from family and the South. Very well done. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Just fantastic in every way. And I will be forever grateful to the friend of a friend who particularly recommended LISTENING to this one. Actresses Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye voice the alternating chapter characters of white Charleston early abolitionist Sarah Grimke and Hetty/Handful, the slave Sarah is given on her 11th birthday against her wishes. Lamia's and Oduye's skill drew me right into the story, and their voices stayed with me even when I grew impatient with the pace of listening, and read several chapters myself towards the end. Sue Monk Kidd did exhaustive research to produce this novel, and explains in her Author's Note at the end where she diverged from fact. While she does embellish and imagine, she is largely faithful to the true story of Sarah and her fellow abolitionist sister, Angelina (Nina). Kidd has done a great service by bringing their lives (which had largely been forgotten, even in Charleston) and Handful's (which was invented, but also based on research) to a much wider audience than the straight historical accounts had previously reached. But all of that might not have worked so well if she hadn't made all three of them, as well as other background characters, so memorable, moving, and compelling. ( )
  CaitlinMcC | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 295 (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)
 

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kidd, Sue Monkprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lamia, JennaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mania, AstridÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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People/Characters
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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.)
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Wikipedia in English

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"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"--

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Book description
Haiku summary
Two girls - pampered, slave
Both fighting to change their lives
They escape their bonds
(sushitori)

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