Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

 Finished reading this summer's reading circle selection last night and it left me suspended in thin air.  Good, good read about real-life abolitionist Sarah Grimké and her sister Nina in a historical novel including fictional Hetty-Handful, the slave that Sarah befriends.

The novel's chapters alternate between Sarah and Handful thus giving us a vivid poignant and colorful look into each woman's life and the differences and similarities between the two.

Sarah is white, privileged, cooped-up in her souped-up Charleston mansion and imprisoned by her femininity.  Handful, well, you can imagine her life at the mansion.  Handful is very talented at sewing, a craft she has honed at her mother, Charlotte's side.  Charlotte is a master quilter and in her few minutes of free time each day, stitches together the story of her life in a quilt that will be central to Handful's his-story.

I took my time reading this book, not something that I normally do with a book I like.  This novel, like a fine liqueur is meant to be savored,  but not just that, I found I had to stop after a few chapters because "it was enough".

This is the best of the several Monk Kidd novels I've read: The Mermaid's Chair, The Secret Life of Bees and Traveling with Pomegranates. The author outdoes herself with this one, the language, so evocative of the south, so sensual and rich it is almost like reading poetry and the story, well, the story is believable and well-imagined.  The author did extensive research on the Grimké sisters but had to fill in many gaps.  She did this admirably, creating a story that is at once informative and spell-binding.

I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Stella-the-critic

2 comments:

Bookworm Habits said...

I read this one too. I agree with you completely. I often put the book down because the imagery and emotion was so rewarding that it played in my mind like a reel.
The title, the wings, sewn, became real and gave freedom.

labergerebasque said...

I have downloaded this on my Kindle. On my 3 day escape to Hendaye, I plan on reading it (starting tomorrow!)