The Invention of Wings ~ Sue Monk Kidd

inventionwingsHetty “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, possessed of a ravenous intellect and mutinous ideas, 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.

Sue Monk Kidds’s sweeping new novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday in 1803, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.  The Invention of Wings follows their remarkable journey of the next thirty-five years as both strive for lives 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.

Inspired in part by the historic figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger  in her search for something better, and Charlotte’s lover, Denmark Besey, a charismatic free black man who is planning insurrection.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at one of the most devastating wounds in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

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