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on 11 November 2017
The Invention of Wings is an entertaining and thought provoking novel, describing life in 19th century Charleston, South Carolina, from the very different perspectives of Sarah Grimke (the daughter of slave owners) and Handful (a family slave.) The chapters alternate between the inter-connected stories of Sarah, who is trapped by her sex and upbringing, and Handful, who has mo rights at all. I enjoyed the 2bd half of the novel more as in their different ways both slave and slave owner rebelled against their status. The Author’s Note that immediately follows the novel is particularly illuminating. Sarah and her sister Angelina were indeed powerful advocates for the abolition of slavery and women’s rights and the inspiration for the book. “My aim was not to write a thinly fictionalised account of Sarah Grimke’s history, but a thickly imagined story inspired by her life.” Plot 4/5, Characterisation 4/5, Literary Merit 4/5, Readability 4/5. Overall 4/5.
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on 8 November 2015
My favourite book of the year by far. I simply couldn't stop reading this moving tale of slavery in the Deep South during the early nineteenth century. A beautifully written, absorbing fictionalised account of abolitionist sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimké written in chapters alternating between Sarah's account and the account of the young slave Handful gifted to her on her eleventh birthday. The book reads like a joint memoir written by both women.
Sue Monk Kidd gives Handful a voice as she writes about the realities of her life and that of her mother Charlotte 'mauma' the Grimke family seamstress; both slaves owned by the family and both mistreated and punished by the elder Grimké 'missus', wife of Judge Grimké and mother to Sarah and Angelina.

The book begins with Sarah's abhorrence at the thought of 'owning' another person, after she was 'given' Handful on her eleventh birthday as her own personal maid and reveals her feelings of revulsion for the keeping of slaves, the punishments metered out to them on an almost daily basis and the the slave trade as a whole.

Sarah takes Handful under her wing, tries to look out for her welfare and teaches her to read.
Sarah is an intelligent, well-read young girl bored with the education she is given as a young lady preparing for society and marriage as her only options. She reads the law books in her father's library and her prime aim is to become a lawyer. Female lawyers were unheard of at that time. Indulged by her father at first, who finds her entertaining and enjoys her debate, he eventually prevents her from accessing his library and stifles her ambition.
As Sarah matures, she becomes both godmother and mentor to her younger sister 'Nina' Angelina and finds a kindred spirit to pass on her thoughts and educate.

The writer Sue Monk Kidd used primary sources, letters, books, essays, and articles about the Grimkés, slavery, abolition, quilts and African textiles, and early nineteenth-century history for her research towards writing this literary classic
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on 16 October 2017
Interesting historical fiction based on the life of two sisters who grew up owning slaves, but later campaigned tirelessly to set them free. The story moves back and forth between the view point of the elder sister and a girl slave she was given as a present whom she grew to care about a great deal. However, the sisters had limited control over the treatment of the family owned slaves who were badly abused if they stepped out of line. As females, the sisters also had limited opportunities to lead productive lives. By chance the elder sister became friendly with Quakers who were against slavery, which eventually lead to a new life for the sisters.
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on 9 October 2016
My favourite book is secret life of bees and I confess to not reading any others by sue monk Kidd but this will now change.... off to find more. Read this you won't be disappointed
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on 17 August 2017
This is a skilful writer who has such a mastery over language that at times it seems like song . This book was a pleasure but also a learning . I knew nothing of these sisters and their fight against their family, their community, their religion and the patriarchal society which suppressed them . I knew very little of the abolitionists . And though I've read great fiction about slavery much of the experiences of Handful and her "family" was new and still shocking . It was a hard story but told so smoothly and effortlessly that I'm sad that it's finished .
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on 30 March 2017
this was a really moving read, i thoroughly enjoyed it even though i was brought to tears at times. it is the sort of book i would probably read again in a several years time and there are very few books i feel that way about
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on 5 November 2017
My sister recommended the book as we had both read and enjoyed ‘The Secret Life of Bees ‘. It is a very well written story, grabbing you and pulling you in from the very start; it was hard to put down. That it was based on a true story was a surprise but it made me so happy that the Grimke sisters were real people and their commitment to the abolition of slavery, the equality of black men and women to whites and to women’s sufferage was real too. It might have been semi-fictionalised but nevertheless the foundation is solid. I would recommend this novel to everyone.
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on 27 April 2017
This is a very engaging novel based on the true story of two sisters who stood up for the abolition of slavery. The life of the slaves in Charlston, and the lifestyle of those who owned them is effectively portrayed alongside the role of women during this period. I particularly enjoyed the references to the story quilts made by the slaves who were forbidden to learn to read or write.
Sue Monk King has written an excellent story which illustrates the extreme hardship & cruelty the slaves endured and the hard fight that had to be fought to win their freedom.
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on 22 October 2017
This story made me think of how difficult it must have been to be a woman as well as providing me with a deeper understanding of the plights and awful life that accompanied those enslaved. I felt I was fighting the fight every step of the early with hetty, Sarah and all those others who joined them. I was grateful for the ending though as I would have been devastated
if it had all been in vain!
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on 15 October 2016
This book was simply incredible. I can't clearly put into words just how it made me feel. It brought up so many emotions in me, both good and bad, and to find out that these were real people made it all the better. I had never known about the Quaker faith's regard to slavery or about all these amazing people. As someone of African descent, I'm so lucky to have been born in this time where there is more love and acceptance for all kinds of people. This needs to be made into a film.
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