The Invention of Wings Book Review

Hi everyone! Hope you’re all having a good week! I’m back with my second book review! I’m going to try to upload two or three reviews or book-related posts every week, but when I go back to uni in October this will get a little more tricky! I apologise in advance!

Anyway, without further ado, let’s get onto the review!

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Release Date: 2014
Publisher: Tinder Press
Source: Goodreads
Genre: Historical
Pages: 432

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.

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.

My Thoughts

After enjoying The Secret Life of Bees, I was looking forward to reading Sue Monk Kidd’s most recent book, The Invention of Wings. Although this book was released a while ago, I only just got round to reading it this month – I simply couldn’t put it off any longer!

The Invention of Wings is a powerful and vivid coming-of-age book about two sisters who come together to fight slavery in their home town (Charleston). They rebel against the traditional notions of slavery, unaware of how much trouble it will cause them. Growing up in a wealthy household, the two girls (Sarah and Nina) are expected to obey their parents and marry into an equally well-off family. However, this is not the case. After being given a slave for her 11th birthday, Sarah realises that it is immoral to keep slaves and she is intent on setting the slave free – no matter what cost.

The book alternates between two points of views: one being Sarah, the other Handful. Sarah comes from a wealthy family while Handful is a slave in her household. Sue Monk Kidd has been successful in showing the two sides of the story, and it’s interesting to read the events of the novel from both perspectives. Sarah and Handful are fantastic characters. Sarah is intelligent and ambitious (she desires to be a lawyer), and Handful is brave. Though they both experience loss, it is Handful’s story which adds a sentimental value to the book, and enables you to draw a connection with the character.

What I didn’t know about The Invention of Wings before reading the Author’s Note at the end, is that the author based the story on a real-life pair of sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimke. As with their fictional counterparts in The Invention of Wings, Sarah and Angelina lived in Charleston. They were the first female abolitionists, and among some of “the earliest major American feminist thinkers.” Sue Monk Kidd wanted to write a book about sisters, and Sarah and Angelina inspired her.

The Invention of Wings can be summarised as an original and thought-provoking book. It deals with disappointment, tragedy, courage and unrequited love. The characters are complex and compelling, and the writing is beautiful. I urge you to read this book if you enjoy books about slavery and the American south.

3 Comment

  1. Sounds good. Not my kind of book though but I enjoyed reading your review.

  2. Perfect review – amazon is my best friend so will add this to the list! thanks for sharing it xx

  3. The story line sounds interesting , although i'm not sure if it's something ill actually read . Gereat job on the review though x

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