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The Invention of Wings Paperback – 25 Sep 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 485 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Tinder Press (25 Sept. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1472212770
  • ISBN-13: 978-1472212771
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (485 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Praise for "The Invention of Wings"

"A remarkable novel that heightened my sense of what it meant to be a woman - slave or free. . .will resonate with anyone who has ever struggled to find her power and her voice. . .Sue Monk Kidd has written a conversation changer. It is impossible to read this book and not come away thinking differently about our status as women and about all the unsung heroines who played a role in getting us to where we are."--Oprah Winfrey, "O The Oprah Magazine"

"A searing historical novel. . .these two women's relationship with each other grows more complex while the culture shape-shifts around them. Their bold individual requests for independence are explored by Kidd in exquisitely nuanced language that makes this book a page turner in the most resonant and satisfying of ways."--"More"

"Kidd hits her stride and avoids sentimental revisionism with this historical novel about the relationship between a slave and the daughter of slave owners in antebellum Charleston...Kidd's portrait of white slave-owning southerners is all the more harrowing for showing them as morally complicated while she gives Handful the dignity of being not simply a victim, but a strong, imperfect woman." --"Kirkus Reviews"

"A moving portrait of two women inextricably linked by the horrors of slavery...Kidd is a master storyteller, and, with smooth and graceful prose, she immerses the reader in the lives of these fascinating women as they navigate religion, family drama, slave revolts, and the abolitionist movement." --"ALA Booklist"

"Monk's compelling work of historical fiction stands out from the rest because of its layers of imaginative details in the lives of actual abolitionists...This richly imagined narrative brings both black history and women's history to life." --"Library Journal"

Praise for "The Invention of Wings"
A remarkable novel that heightened my sense of what it meant to be a woman slave or free . . a conversation changer. Oprah Winfrey, "O, The Oprah Magazine"
Exhilarating. . .powerful. . .By humanizing these formidable women, The Invention of Wings furthers our essential understanding of what has happened among us as Americans and why it still matters. "The" "Washington Post"
A textured masterpiece, quietly yet powerfully poking our consciences and our consciousness . . . leaves us feeling uplifted and hopeful. NPR
A searing and soaring story of two women bound together as mistress and slave. "USA Today"
Kidd has managed to avoid both condescension and cliche, creating an unforgettable character in the slave Handful, the emotional core of her utterly engaging third novel. "The Boston Globe"
If this isn t an American classic-to-be, I don t know what is. . .this book is as close to perfect as any I ve ever read. "The Dallas Morning News"
A powerful story of rebellion and heroism. . .The remarkable courage and hope found in "The" "Invention of Wings" is a reminder that we all have those wings and tells us a lot more about how we got them. "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"
Kidd has done a marvelous job of capturing two special and vibrant voices. . . I can t recall reading a book about slavery that presented in such vivid and heartbreaking detail just what the daily life and labor felt like. "The Minneapolis Star Tribune"
A total revelation. . .the book is balanced by two extraordinary women: real-life abolitionist and feminist Sarah Grimke and the imagined handmaiden Handful, who nearly leaps off every page. Patrick Bass, "Essence"" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The No. 1 New York Times bestseller from the author of THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Denise4891 TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 5 Dec. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I'm always drawn to novels set in 19th century America and the work of abolitionists etc, and The Invention of Wings is one of the best I've read. It tells the story of Handful (Hattie), a 10 year old girl who is given as a birthday present to her master's daughter, 11 year old Sarah. Despite being the daughter of a rich plantation-owning judge, Sarah has firm anti-slavery views and is horrified to find herself in the position of `owning' another human being, but her attempts to set Handful free are soon thwarted by her parents.

Told by each of the girls in alternating chapters as they grow into strong and charismatic young women, this is the story of a terrible period in American history told through the eyes of both slave and `mistress'. I didn't realise until I read the Author's Note at the end that the story is based on historical fact and that Sarah, her sister Nina and brother-in-law Theodore Weld were renowned anti-slavery campaigners. Whilst the author does not shy away from portraying the cruel and degrading punishments meted out to the slaves in the Grimke household for even minor transgressions, it's perhaps not as brutal as some other novels I've read such as Beloved or The Book of Night Women. Instead it focuses more on the concept that one person could `own' another, which is shocking to us today but in the American South of the early 19th century, was generally regarded as the norm.

Sue Monk Kidd has woven these real-life events seamlessly into an engaging and thought-provoking story and embellished it with strong fictional characters such as Handful and her mother Charlotte.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A wonderful book, thought provoking and, despite the brutality of the subject, so beautifully written. I began it having read no reviews, thinking it was a work of fiction about slavery and the intertwining lives of a southern white child, Sarah Grimke and a black slave child, Hetty. But then realisation began to dawn that it was based on factual characters and events.
As the children grow up and tell their stories in alternating chapters, the author gives them both such distinctive and credible voices. Sarah, who refuses the gift of her own child slave to mark her 11th birthday, grows up to become a ‘famous, and infamous’ abolitionist. Hetty, that child slave, becomes a remarkably independent young woman who refuses to accept the conditions of her enslavement.
And then finally, to the author’s fascinating notes, which detail how she became interested in the story of the Grimke sisters and her research into their lives, revealing so much interesting information that truly rounds off a highly recommended read.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
“The Invention of Wings” is set between 1811 and 1838 and tells the tale of slavery in the South of America from two viewpoints, that of the slave, and that of a white girl from a slave-holding family, a girl who sees the cruelty endured by the slaves for what it is but, because of society, feels “alone in the world with my alien ideas.”

That girl is Sarah Grimke, a famous abolitionist who can be read about on Wikipedia. This work of fiction starts with her being 11 and offered a slave called Handful. She refuses the gift. This, as the blurb says, is where the trouble begins.

From there Sarah realises that she too is enslaved in certain things – “at the age of eleven I owned a slave I couldn’t free.” She is also prevented from being who she wants to be because she is a woman. “If Sarah were a boy, she would be the greatest jurist in South Carolina!” her father says. But “for a woman to aspire to be a lawyer – well, possibly, the world would end.” And her slave Handful summed it up best of all by saying “my body might be slave, but not my mind, for you, it’s the other way round.”

So Sarah goes through her life with her alien ideas, which she also influences upon her younger sister and goddaughter Nina Grimke. Eventually she comes upon her purpose in life, “we can’t accept slavery, it must end. That’s what I was born for.” This is where she, with the help of Nina, discovers her wings – “I saw how cunning the Fates had been. Nina was one wing, I was the other.” Meanwhile Handful’s wings are still clipped. With the slaves having failed in a revolt she is still enslaved back in Charleston at the Grimke’s home.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is probably one of the better half fictional, half true accounts of the Abolitionist period in America. I found the alternating chapters between Sarah and Handful quite easy to follow and the story was built up well using this method.

Handful's chapters were always easy to read and flowed well but I found several of Sarah's chapters slow and a little boring at times. Having said that, when I finished the book and read the author's note, it all made sense. It was only after reading the note that I realised the book was half based on the true story of the Grimké sisters and blended with fiction to build the character of Handful, or Hetty. Learning about these two remarkable sisters in this way was certainly easier and quicker than reading the true life accounts and what this book has done is made me want to read more about them in context.

Although I found the Secret Life of Bees a far more absorbing read, The Invention of Wings held my interest and was good enough to keep picking up daily. I just found there were sections I got very bored with and I think that there was a period that the author could have condensed when it came to Sarah.

Overall, the book worked for me and I will continue to read Sue Monk Kidd but I am unlikely to revisit this one. It is worth a read though and despite the average rating I have given it, I would recommend it to others.
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