Friday, January 3, 2014

Julie's Review: The Invention of Wings

Summary: 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. 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 Grimkes 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. Kidds sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarahs 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 others 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 Handfuls 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: The Secret Life of Bees is on my top list of books of all time. Yes, it's that good. The movie is wonderful as well. For those of you wanting another Bees, The Invention of Wings is not. Now, don't go running away from it; it's brilliant. It is well-researched, well-written and a fantastic story. The women in this book are strong, even when they don't think they are being so. As in most historical fiction novel, these women are ahead of their time.

The thing is, Sarah Grimke is a true historical figure. It's not the events around this book that are fascinating it is her. It is her and Handful's story. It is a period in history that none of us like to read about because slavery makes all of us uncomfortable. What I was expecting was a story of forbidden friendship between a young girl and her handmaid, but it is and it isn't. They don't have the bond I would have thought would have developed but there is a deep caring and understanding between the two.

Sarah is on her own path that will eventually take her north to Philadelphia where she will want to claim her independence from her family and all that comes with the name. She is desperately trying to find her voice and her path in life. She sacrifices love as well as her family to pursue the thing she believes deep in her heart; slavery is morally wrong. She and her sister, Angelina, make it their lives work to end it.

Handful is smart and eager to forge her own path as well. The problem is, the path she has chosen just might get her killed. Her bond with her mother is touching and strong. They are built from the same cloth; strong and foolish. You want Handful to succeed but you also know her strong-willed temperament will do her more harm than good.

What I loved about The Invention of Wings, among many things, was the story quilt that Charlotte put together for Handful. It was a beautiful way to tell her story since she was illiterate. You could vividly picture it as you read about it. It was what kept Charlotte close to Handful for many years.

If you are looking for a fantastic way to start off 2014, then look no further than Ms. Kidd's newest novel. The Invention of Wings will leave you wondering if you could truly follow your own convictions.

The Invention of Wings will be released on 1/7/2014.

Final Take: 5/5
Thank you to Viking books for my e-galley through Net Galley



Unknown January 3, 2014 at 8:35 AM  

Lovely review Julie! I just started the book yesterday and I'm already enjoying it very much!! Great start to 2014.

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