To say that Sue Monk Kidd is an amazing writer is an understatement. I first fell in love with her writing when I read The Secret Life of Bees and have anxiously awaited another novel by her. Well it’s here and it’s called The Invention of Wings and it is amazing! It is also an Oprah Book Club selection and I know that this is one book that will make great book club discussions.
The Invention of Wings takes us into the Deep South in the nineteenth century when slavery was rampant and women had little rights. On a plantation in Charleston young Sarah knew she wanted more for her life and knew even at that young age that slavery should not exist. When, at eleven, she’s given ownership of young Hetty ‘Handful’, she’s more horrified than anything else and even attempts to free her. Of course she doesn’t get away with it so the girls begin to forge a friendship that will last their lives even as they both follow their own separate paths. The issue of slavery is always a hard one for me to read about as I just can’t fathom the cruelty of people. I have so much respect for those in the early days who stood up against slavery even at their own risk.
Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke the author tells a story of what their lives may have been like while weaving in historical fact. Sarah becomes becomes one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements along with her sister Angelina. Over the years Sarah’s life is at risk many times but still she stands up for what she believes in. I believe she would have been a great woman and it would have been an honor to know her. I loved the story of Hetty as well. Although tied to a life of slavery she still had the will and determination to know that what she wanted most for her life was freedom.
I had the pleasure of listening to The Invention of Wings on audio and it is fantastic. It is narrated by the hugely talented Jenna Lamia who I love to to listen to and Adepero Oduye who I haven’t listened to before but thought she did a wonderful job with the character of Handful. The audio is almost 14 hours long and I dreaded it coming to the end. I was completely captivated by the way these two women portrayed this story! The audio also has an author’s note read by Sue Monk Kidd herself and it is not be missed. She talks of her writing of the book and the characters and it provides a wealth of extra information along with the author’s feelings on the novel as well. Very powerful!
I don’t believe I can possibly do this book justice. It is a book I loved and I know I won’t forget the characters of Sarah or Hetty or their story any time soon. This book truly touched my heart. The Invention of Wings is the perfect blend of historical fact and fiction culminating in a beautiful novel of hope and courage. Highly recommended!
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.
JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing says
This one is already on my wish list, but now I’ll shift it to my audio list instead!
JoAnn, listen to the audio if you can. It’s so good!
Added to my audio list. Loved your review!
Hope you can listen to it soon Mary. I’d love to know what you think of it.
Liked your review very much.
bermudaonion (Kathy) says
I’m just getting started with this one and so far it’s terrific. You know me and accents, though – I have to say the Charleston accent isn’t quite right but, so far, it hasn’t bothered me.
Kathy, I can’t wait to see what you think of it. I’m glad I don’t know the difference in accents because it would likely bug me too if I did.
Wow, sounds great. The reviews have been favorable all around –looking forward to this one.
Diane, I don’t know if I’ve read a bad review yet. I’m looking forward to your thoughts on it when you get to it.
Laura Fabiani says
My audiobook wishlist keeps going up every time I read your reviews! This is the second fantastic review of this book I read. Slavery is a tough subject and I have to be in the mood for an emotional read when I pick this up.
LoL Laura. I agree that slavery is a tough subject and hard to read about. It never fails to make me angry and yet I’m always drawn to books like this.
Sometimes I read a book that all the book bloggers say is wonderful only to find I don’t agree. That is the case with this book.
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 the childhoods of one of the sisters and her slave. If you, like me, prefer books that grab you and won’t let go, this didn’t seem to be it.
But, if you stick with it, it gets better. While it continues to be told alternately by the one sister (a historical figure) and the slave (pure fiction but imagined from an actual slave who was given to the sister and died soon after), this part is better. Also, many of the characters in the second half really did exist.
Sue Monk Kidd wrote an interesting Afterward in which she explains what is fact and what is fiction. So don’t just stop when you finish the story; read this Afterward. The story will mean more to you if you do. And you will 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.
I won this book from goodreads.com.
Beth, I always find it interesting to hear from people who don’t enjoy a book as I did just to know why. I think that’s the fun of talking about books.
I agree on the afterward by the author. I thought it was great to have her explain why she wrote it and who was real and who wasn’t.
Now the choice is print or audio! Wonderful review.
Nise, I vote for audio! LOL.
Thanks for the review! I’m adding this to my TBR. I also liked The Secret Life of Bees very much, but I really didn’t care for The Mermaid Chair AT ALL, so I wasn’t too sure about this one. But it is getting great reviews, so I am going to take a chance!
Kim, I loved The Secret Life of Bees but I had forgotten all about The Mermaid Chair and I’ve read it and even enjoyed it. This one is quite a bit different from both of those. I’d be curious as to what you’d think of it if you do read it.
I don’t think I will get to this until later in the summer, but I’ll definitely post a review when I do. Hope it is as good as I hear!
Terry Martini says
I am currently listening to this one on audio also and I agree with your review completely. The readers really draw you into the lives of the characters. I am listening in my car and I sometimes drive around the block a few times just so I can listen to more of the story. Highly recommended also!
Terry, I thought the same with the narrators. They can really make or break a story for me. Lol on having to go around the block a few times to listen to more. I’ve done that too!
This sounds like another intriguing story. She tackles such interesting relationships between her characters.
Ann, it’s a great story that ended too soon for me.
I’m glad to hear it’s really good. I have high expectations for it, since I liked Bees so much.
Anna, I hope you’ll like it. I look forward to your thoughts on it when you get to it.
Literary Feline says
I would like to read this one at some point. I loved the authors other two books. She has such a way with characters.
Wendy, I agree. She has a way of making her characters so real to the reader and even more so on audio. I love her writing.
Sounds like one I’ll definitely be looking for on audio!
Lisa, yes give it a go on audio if you’re planning on reading it.