The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Published in 2013 by Tinder Press
Book 12 in my January Kindle Challenge
Sarah Grimké is the middle daughter. The one her mother calls difficult and her father calls remarkable. On Sarah’s eleventh birthday, Hetty ‘Handful’ is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift. Sarah knows what she does next will unleash a world of trouble. She also knows that she cannot accept. And so, indeed, the trouble begins …
This is one of the books that had been on my Kindle for ages, and I was determined to finally read this month!
I was drawn into this book immediately, and found the depiction of a family living in the US in the early 19th century to be really interesting. I liked the character of Sarah who was strong and opinionated. She narrates alternating chapters along with young slave girl Handful, and the differences between them are made all the more clear using this narrative style.
I think the first section of this book was the most powerful, as you find out how the slaves are treated and the over-riding attitudes of the time – but also how some people were starting to question the treatment of black people. And of course what makes the story most interesting is that many of the characters are based on real people, and although I had never before heard of the Grimke sisters, they played a major role in the abolition of slavery. Other characters in the book are also based on real life people, although interestingly Hetty – although she existed – died young in real life, and so her story was mainly fictionalised.
Unfortunately, though, I found that this book dragged at times, and even though it came in at just under 400 pages, it seemed too long at times and some sections were quite boring. I must admit that by the end of the novel I had really lost interest as I found the plot was a bit lacking at times. I think the book may have been better if it had just focused on one of the characters as, although the alternating chapters was interesting at first, I think this made the book overly long, especially when the two girls’ stories didn’t link together.
There is a lot to like about this book. It is clearly very well researched and I definitely learnt a lot through reading it. But it just didn’t quite click into place for me – I found it dull in parts and by the end I did find myself struggling to finish it.