The Invention of Wings

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Headline, Jan 7, 2014 - Fiction - 416 pages

The No. 1 New York Times bestseller. A powerful and extraordinary novel about the unlikely friendship between two exceptional women during the last years of slavery in the US. From the celebrated author of the multi-million-copy-bestselling novel The Secret Life of Bees.

'Fascinating... A splendid tribute to a pair of true heroines' The Times

'Wonderful - well-written, moving and engaging by turns, and always compelling' Daily Mail

'A remarkable novel that heightened my sense of what it meant to be a woman - slave or free' Oprah Winfrey

'A resonant, illuminating novel' Observer

Sarah Grimké is the middle daughter. Her mother says she's difficult and her father says she's remarkable. On Sarah's eleventh birthday, Hetty 'Handful' Grimké is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift. Sarah knows that what she does next will unleash a world of trouble. She also knows that she cannot accept another person as a present. And so, indeed, the trouble begins ...

A powerful, sweeping novel, inspired by real events, and set in the American Deep South in the nineteenth century, The Invention of Wings evokes a world of shocking contrasts, of beauty and ugliness, of otherwise respectable people living daily with cruelty they fail to recognise; and celebrates the power of friendship and sisterhood against all the odds.

What readers say about The Invention of Wings:

'You cannot fault Sue Monk Kidd's writing; she very adeptly speaks with both Sarah and Handful's voice. The pictures she paints are vivid, compelling and haunting; this is not a novel I will easily forget' Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

'I was not expecting this book to grab my heartstrings and pull the way that it did' Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

'The weaving of fact and fiction into a powerful novel covering abolition of slavery, women's ambitions in 19th century America, love, family, betrayal and hope for a better future make compelling reading' Amazon reviewer, 5 stars

'Unforgettable. This book was completely and utterly dynamic. From the first word to the last I was enthralled with Sarah and Handful. So powerful' Goodreads reviewer, 5 stars

What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

It`s no accident that young Sarah loses her voice when a slave woman is flay-whipped in front of her eyes. It's no mistake that her mother, (the rich slave owner who ordered the brutal punishment,)is unremittingly pregnant for ten years within a religiously-endorsed system that enslaves her too.
There's no error that the privileged patriarch of the slave-owning family dies early, filled with shame for his stolen, unearned wealth. As Booker T. Washington once explained, "You can't hold a man down without staying down with him."
And yet, astonishingly, out of such biblically-validated usury emerges the sparkling intellects of four creative women whose wings of integrity reinvent autonomy, freedom and true love.
Eleanor Cowan, author of : A History of a Pedophile's Wife
 

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

The Invention of Wings is the third novel by bestselling American author, Sue Monk Kidd. In it, Kidd takes the bare facts surrounding Charleston’s famous (and infamous) 19th century abolitionist/emancipist sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, and, as she puts it, grafts fiction onto truth to weave a fascinating and inspirational account of early abolitionism in America. Kidd employs two narrators: Sarah Grimke, and the slave she is given by her mother (and attempts to free) on her eleventh birthday, Hetty Handful Grimke. From this starting point, the contrast in their lives as they grow up is starkly illustrated. Even at the tender age of eleven, Sarah knew slavery was wrong, but it was years later before she “…saw then what I hadn’t seen before, that I was very good at despising slavery in the abstract, in the removed and anonymous masses, but in the concrete, intimate flesh of the girl beside me, I’d lost the ability to be repulsed by it. I’d grown comfortable with the particulars of evil. There’s a frightful muteness that dwells at the center of all unspeakable things, and I had found my way into it.” Handful’s narration consistently brings things into perspective: “White folks think you care about everything in the world that happens to them, every time they stub their toe.” Kidd populates her novel with character both real and fictitious: Denmark Vesey, charismatic and seditious; Charlotte, loving and determined; Mary, cruel and unpredictable. Sewing and quilts, the spirit tree, stuttering, blackbirds and Quakers all have their part to play. Through all that life throws at them, the women somehow remain friends. Handful often has a perceptive take on the situation: “She was trapped same as me, but she was trapped by her mind, by the minds of people around her, not by the law……I tried to tell her that. I said, ‘my body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it’s the other way round.’” and “This ain’t the same Sarah who left here. She had a firm look in her eye and her voice didn’t dither and hesitate like it used to. She’d been boiled down to a good, strong broth.” Kidd treats the reader to some marvellously descriptive prose: “Mother’s letter in response arrived in September. Her small, tight scrawl was thick with fury and ink.” and “It was the time of year when migrating crows wheeled across the sky, thunderous flocks that moved like a single veil, and I heard them, out there in the wild chirruping air. Turning to the window, I watched the birds fill the sky before disappearing, and when the air was still again, I watched the empty place where they had been” are just two examples. A powerful and moving novel. 

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About the author (2014)

Sue Monk Kidd is the author of three novels, all of which have been international bestsellers: The Secret Life Of Bees, The Mermaid Chair and The Invention Of Wings. The Secret Life Of Bees spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list, was long-listed for the Orange Prize, and was turned into an award-winning film. The Mermaid Chair and The Invention of Wings were both No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. Sue is also the author of several acclaimed non-fiction books including Travelling with Pomegranates, which she co-wrote with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor.

Sue lives in Florida with her husband Sandy.

www.suemonkkidd.com
Twitter @suemonkkidd