The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
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 is our book club choice for April. This book features two of my favourite things, Charleston, South Carolina and lots of history.
I am very interested in the Southern way of life in the 1800's and so this book was perfect for me. It also had a lot of true facts in it, which made it all the more believable. The way the author described the day to day activity of the household and the pecking order made everything feel so real.
I read this book over two days as I could not put it down. I enjoyed the way the chapters alternated between the two main characters Sarah and Handful. Each were fighting for their own part of the world and each went about it in different ways.
Then there was the story quilt and how that was described was also very powerful; but it made sense that as most slaves could not read or write making a quilt to tell their story was the way to go.
Stars out of 5 : 5 it is a book well worth reading and an author I am glad to have been introduced too. I do not believe in slavery but am interested in how things played out in the south. Very, very glad I read this book.