Friday, March 27, 2015

The Invention of Wings; Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings; Sue Monk Kidd
Viking - 2014

I'm not a huge fan of true stories that are later fictionalized, so when this book was first released, I was curious, but didn't rush out to read it. It's this month's discussion book at our library, so I decided to give it a try.

Sarah Grimke and her younger sister Angelina (Nina) were born into a wealthy, slave-holding, Charleston family in the early 1800s.  In real life, these sisters rebelled and became leading forces for women, fighting hard to abolish slavery, despite being ostracised by those closest to them.

The novel begins with Sarah being given her own personal slave for her eleventh birthday. The slave girl, Handful (Hetty), was presented to Sarah with a big fancy bow around her neck.  Even at her early age Sarah realizes what her parents have done is wrong. She refuses the gift, but realizes that she really doesn't have a choice in the matter. She is punished by her father and banned from his library, after she writes a document to "free" her newly gifted slave Handful.

Sarah is strong willed and realizes she may not win the battle, but wants to make Hetty's situation better for her.  Sarah secretly teaches Hetty to read, something that is clearly forbidden.  The connection between the two girls strengthens Sarah's determination to change the way things are as she matures. She fights hard against slavery and the treatment of women as second class citizens.

The story alternates from the POV of the women from as early as 1803 through1838.  I loved that the women had distinct voices. Hetty and her mother Charlotte were determined, resilient women who became top notch seamstresses, depite the fact neither were allowed to go to school.  The one thing that bothered me a bit was, what I felt, was the over use of the word "slave" -- just seemed so degrading.

I can see why this book has been a top pick for book groups everywhere as well as an Oprah pick. So many issues to discuss: women's issues, slavery, friendship, sisters, freedom and more.  It's a story that truly demostrates the plight of women at that time -- white women, as well as slave women at this point in history.  I thought about the title as well, and, it seems just so perfect "the invention of wings" to rise above what once was. Happy I had a chance to finally read this one.

4.5/5 stars
(eGalley)

16 comments:

  1. Diane,
    This sounds like a book I should read. The title does sound perfect for the subject matter. Wonderful review!

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    1. (P.S. I like the new, springtime look of your blog!)

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  2. I love historical fiction based on real people, so I'm putting this on my wish list. By the way, did you read "The Wedding Gift"? I wasn't crazy about it but it does touch on some of the same issues - women during the time of slavery. http://drchazan.blogspot.co.il/2013/08/my-latest-book-review-wedding-gift-by.html

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  3. I enjoyed this story, also! I love the author's writing style.

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  4. I read this, too.

    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 something else: the childhoods of one of the sisters and her slave. So this part was a complete fabrication. It didn't grab me. It bored me, just a typical Oprah book.

    The next part is based on fact. Also, many of the other characters in the second half really did exist.

    The author wrote an interesting Afterward in which she explains what is fact and what is fiction. I wish people would not just stop when they finish the story; readers should read this Afterward so they 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.

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  5. I tend to shy away from books involving slavery but this does sound interesting. I love how fitting the title is. I'll have to look for it next time I'm in the library.

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  6. I love your new look! This book was on my favorite list.

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  7. Great review, but I would pass on that one.

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  8. This has been on my list for quite some time now, but I keep waiting for my library to get it on audio (downloadable, not cd), but no luck as of yet. I can wait, since I have so many other audio books to listen to, but I am eager to get to it since I've read so many glowing reviews.

    I love your new template! The background color looks a lot like one of my guest rooms. Very cheerful!

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  9. I have been wanting to read this for a while. I have heard great things about it.

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  10. I loved this book. Great review Diane. I love your new blog designs too.

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  11. I really need to get to this one!

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  12. I actually liked the story more when I heard it was based on a real pair of sisters. It was fascinating!

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  13. I didn't even know the Grimke's were real people when I read the book; found out a book club. I think it helped that I didn't already know about them and any of their history.

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  14. The only real quibble I had with the book was the end came rather abruptly. There was a very dangerous, tense situation and then oops! Book over. But that was minor. This is definitely an A+ read!

    Marlene
    Top rated San Antonio Movers website

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