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The Invention of Wings

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The Invention of Wings Cover

ISBN13: 9780670024780
ISBN10: 0670024783
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

Inspired by the true story of early-19th-century abolitionist Sarah Grimké, The Invention of Wings follows the lives and evolving friendship of two women, one the rebellious daughter of a Southern plantation owner, the other an indomitable slave pursuing freedom. Much like her remarkable Secret Lives of Bees, Kidd's new book is a powerful tale about women daring to take a different path.
Recommended by Abby, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 — and it is now the newest Oprah's Book Club 2.0 selection.

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.

Review:

“A remarkable novel that heightened my sense of what it meant to be a woman — slave or free...will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled to find her power and her voice...Sue Monk Kidd has written a conversation changer. It is impossible to read this book and not come away thinking differently about our status as women and about all the unsung heroines who played a role in getting us to where we are." Oprah Winfrey, O The Oprah Magazine

Review:

“A searing historical novel...these two women's relationship with each other grows more complex while the culture shape-shifts around them. Their bold individual requests for independence are explored by Kidd in exquisitely nuanced language that makes this book a page turner in the most resonant and satisfying of ways.” More

Review:

“Kidd hits her stride and avoids sentimental revisionism with this historical novel about the relationship between a slave and the daughter of slave owners in antebellum Charleston....Kidd's portrait of white slave-owning southerners is all the more harrowing for showing them as morally complicated while she gives Handful the dignity of being not simply a victim, but a strong, imperfect woman.” Kirkus Reviews

Review:

“A moving portrait of two women inextricably linked by the horrors of slavery….Kidd is a master storyteller, and, with smooth and graceful prose, she immerses the reader in the lives of these fascinating women as they navigate religion, family drama, slave revolts, and the abolitionist movement.” ALA Booklist

Review:

“Monk's compelling work of historical fiction stands out from the rest because of its layers of imaginative details in the lives of actual abolitionists….This richly imagined narrative brings both black history and women's history to life.” Library Journal

About the Author

Sue Monk Kidd is the author of three novels, The Secret Life of Bees, The Mermaid Chair, and, most recently, The Invention of Wings, which will be published by Viking in January 2014. The Secret Life of Bees spent more than two and a half years on the New York Times bestseller list, was adapted into an award-winning movie, and has been translated into thirty-six languages. The Mermaid Chair, a #1 New York Times bestseller, was adapted into a television movie. She is also the author of the memoirs The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, When the Heart Waits, and, with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor, the New York Times bestseller Traveling with Pomegranates. Her early writings on spirituality are collected in the book Firstlight. The recipient of numerous literary awards, Sue lives in southwest Florida with her husband, Sandy, and their black Lab, Lily.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

rlm90, September 10, 2014 (view all comments by rlm90)
Moving story of Sarah (privileged white girl) and Handful (a slave in Sarah's household). Excellent description of the differences of the two classes and how they lived... Great suspense and clearly written with excellent character development. Couldn't put it down once I started it....
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writermala, August 23, 2014 (view all comments by writermala)
Once I started reading this book I could not stop till I'd finished reading every word, including the Author's Note. Not surprisingly Kidd says she was inspired by the words of Professor Julius Lester that "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 our own." Indeed the author has helped all her readers make one particular pain their own. In the telling of "The invention of wings," Kidd uses Sarah Grimke and Handful as narrators and the story begins appropriately with Sarah receiving Handful as a "gift" on her eleventh Birthday! The fact that Sarah does not want a "slave" as her own personal maid is of no consequence. Handful makes the astute observation, that she is not sure if Sarah's feelings for her are love or guilt and indeed Sarah feels a measure of both. Handful also wonders if what she feels for Sarah is love or a way to be safe! Once Sarah's younger sister Angelina is on the scene the dynamics change and Angelina is even more spirited in her speaking for Abolition and Women's rights. Angelina complements Sarah in every way and together they rewrite history. As Sarah says "Nina was one wing I was the other." Yes, these two brave sisters invented wings and soared!
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techeditor, January 22, 2014 (view all comments by techeditor)
In spite of all the wonderful reviews of THE INVENTION OF WINGS, for me, it got off to a bad start. Although this is a story that involves two historical characters, sisters who were abolitionists and who also spoke up about women's rights, the author chose to devote half of the book to the childhoods of one of the sisters and her slave. If you, like me, prefer books that grab you and won't let go, this didn't seem to be it.

But, if you stick with it, this really is a good book. While it continues to be told alternately by the one sister (a historical figure) and the slave (pure fiction but imagined from an actual slave who was given to the sister and died soon after), this part is based on fact. Also, many of the other characters in the second half really did exist.

The author, Sue Monk Kidd, wrote an interesting Afterword in which she explains what is fact and what is fiction. So don't just stop when you finish the story; read this Afterward. The story will mean more to you if you do. And you will know which reviewers read it and which skipped it. For example, many will say that the story of Handful, the slave, was based on an actual person. Not true says Kidd.

I won this book from goodreads.com.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780670024780
Author:
Kidd, Sue Monk
Publisher:
Penguin Audio
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Edition Description:
CD-Audio
Publication Date:
20140107
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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The Invention of Wings Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$19.50 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Penguin Audio - English 9780670024780 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Inspired by the true story of early-19th-century abolitionist Sarah Grimké, The Invention of Wings follows the lives and evolving friendship of two women, one the rebellious daughter of a Southern plantation owner, the other an indomitable slave pursuing freedom. Much like her remarkable Secret Lives of Bees, Kidd's new book is a powerful tale about women daring to take a different path.

"Review" by , “A remarkable novel that heightened my sense of what it meant to be a woman — slave or free...will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled to find her power and her voice...Sue Monk Kidd has written a conversation changer. It is impossible to read this book and not come away thinking differently about our status as women and about all the unsung heroines who played a role in getting us to where we are."
"Review" by , “A searing historical novel...these two women's relationship with each other grows more complex while the culture shape-shifts around them. Their bold individual requests for independence are explored by Kidd in exquisitely nuanced language that makes this book a page turner in the most resonant and satisfying of ways.”
"Review" by , “Kidd hits her stride and avoids sentimental revisionism with this historical novel about the relationship between a slave and the daughter of slave owners in antebellum Charleston....Kidd's portrait of white slave-owning southerners is all the more harrowing for showing them as morally complicated while she gives Handful the dignity of being not simply a victim, but a strong, imperfect woman.”
"Review" by , “A moving portrait of two women inextricably linked by the horrors of slavery….Kidd is a master storyteller, and, with smooth and graceful prose, she immerses the reader in the lives of these fascinating women as they navigate religion, family drama, slave revolts, and the abolitionist movement.”
"Review" by , “Monk's compelling work of historical fiction stands out from the rest because of its layers of imaginative details in the lives of actual abolitionists….This richly imagined narrative brings both black history and women's history to life.”
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