Published 7 January 2014
Following the lives of two women, The Invention of Wings takes us on a journey to Charleston in the deep American South in the early part of the nineteenth century. Born into a wealthy plantation family, the Grimké sisters understand the concept of slavery, and yet when Sarah Grimké turns eleven, she is presented with the gift of a ten year old slave child, who is known as Hetty ‘Handful’ Grimké. Taken from her mother, and wrapped in lavender ribbons, Hetty is presented to Sarah, ostensibly to become Sarah’s waiting maid. Sarah’s reluctance to accept Hetty as a ‘gift’, the repercussions of this action, and Sarah’s response to it, reverberate, not just on immediate impact, but on the continuing stability of the lives of those around them.
Spanning the next thirty-five years, this is the story, not just of Sarah and Hetty, but also, of those who lives come into contact with them.
Beautifully written, and based on the true and astonishing story of Sarah Grimké’s passionate fight against the use of slavery, the novel is a sensitive and heartfelt evocation of a world, hopefully long gone, in which dreadful crimes where perpetrated against humankind.
Overall, this is a difficult book to ‘enjoy’ as it reveals a shocking world of possession and rejection. However, running alongside the story of overwhelming wickedness and prejudice, the book's lasting legacy is that an abiding goodness can be found, if hope is never abandoned.
Highly Recommended Read.
My thanks to NetGalley and Headline/Tinder Press for my advance reading copy of this book.
Sue Monk Kidd is the bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair.
The Mermaid Chair spent 24 weeks on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list, reaching the #1 position, and spent 22 weeks on the New York Times trade paperback list. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs, including the New York Times bestseller Traveling with Pomegranates, written with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor. Kidd lives in Florida with her husband.