Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Invention of Wings

 The Invention of Wings is by Sue Monk Kidd.  I had read her book The Secret Life of Bees a few
years ago and really liked it, so I was looking forward to reading this one.  The Invention of Wings is an amazing book.  It is historical fiction, based on the life of Sarah Grimke.

Sarah Grimke was the daughter of an elite Charleston family who lived in the early 1800's.  The book began in 1803 with Sarah's 11th birthday, when her mother gave her Hetty "Handful" as her personal slave for a birthday present.  Sarah and Hetty became friends and Sarah taught Hetty how to read (which was against the law). Both girls were punished when it was learned what Sarah had done. Hetty was a year younger than Sarah and this made for a perfect contrast through-out the book of two women in extremely different circumstances, both yearning for more in their lives than what was imposed upon them. Both yearned for freedom in their own ways.  Eventually Sarah moved to Philadelphia and became a Quaker, until that became too restrictive for her life's work.

The story covers the years beginning in late 1803 to 1838.  Part of what I found so fascinating about the book is that it does not extend into the Civil War.  It is the story of how Sarah worked all of her life for freedom for others.  She was never comfortable with the concept of slavery and was quite vocal about it.  And, remember,  this was in early 1800's  in the South.  As Sarah got older, her work expanded into freedom and equality for all women.

Ms. Kidd did such a wonderful job with exploring Hetty's history, bringing in her mother, Charlotte, who always yearned for freedom and extracted a promise from Sarah that some day she would free her daughter, Hetty. 

It really is an amazing book and I am very interested to learn more about Sarah Grimke and her sister Angelina who were both so active in the freedom movements.

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