Sue Monk Kidd is the author of THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES. It went on to become a best selling movie as well as a classic novel for all ages. And here she comes with a blockbuster novel about freeing women. THE INVENTION OF WINGS is mostly about freeing women from slavery. But, it is also about giving all women the power to live their own lives free from oppression and slavery.
Make note that this may be the only time you see the cover of this book without an Oprah book club seal. I received my beautiful finished copy before Oprah’s seal of approval. I can assure you this book would merit high regard on its own! But since Oprah has chosen it to be one of her picks, you know what is going to happen next.
This novel is set in the deep south of Charleston, South Carolina. It is 1803. Every single plantation and city house owned their share of slaves. It’s just how they lived in those days. So when Sarah Grimke is given her own personal slave on her eleventh birthday, it was a huge deal that she refused her gift. After all, she was the daughter of a well-do-do family and that is just the way it was. She was punished and ended up having to accept Handful as her own private maid. Handful was expected to sleep outside the little misses door during the night just in case she would be summoned. God what a life.
I am a sucker for stories about strong women. I think most of us are. And when I found out that this story is based on real historical characters, well, that was it. I have to admit that this story grew on me. I did not fall in love with it straight away. It grew, and grew. The characters evolved. I felt myself caring about them. And I could tell Kidd had truly done her research.
The Grimke sisters were real-life abolitionists. Kidd became fascinated with their story and decided to use them in her book. The character of Handful is also drawn from real life. This intrigued me.
The topic of slavery has been done to death, just as the topic of World War Two. I need a new, unique story to engage me. And THE INVENTION OF WINGS has this. You are given such insight into life in Charleston in the early to mid 1800’s. You can almost smell the gas lights burning the midnight oil. And you can certainly feel the heat of the summers. And picture the dresses worn by both slaves and gentry.
You’ll learn how slaves who could not read could still tell their life stories by sewing them into their quilts. And some quilts held much more than stories; small fortunes were sometimes hidden in plain sight.
These four women will change the way you look at history. They may even change your mind. Being a woman or being a slave was torturous in the 1800’s. Just imagine being both a woman and a slave. Unimaginable.
Two slaves and two white sisters go forth to change history. By being strong, by stepping outside their comfort zones. By putting their own lives on the line. And we all should be grateful.
The extraordinary people at Viking were kind enough to send me this beautiful finished copy of what is sure to be one of the smartest and best-loved novels of this season and seasons to come. Thanks guys!