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The Invention of Wings

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  98,058 ratings  ·  12,758 reviews
From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty "Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston
Audio CD
Published January 7th 2014 by Penguin Audio
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Dee Mermaid Chair is more mystical. The Invention of Wings is more realistic, based on historical facts. I liked the the Invention of Wings much better.…moreMermaid Chair is more mystical. The Invention of Wings is more realistic, based on historical facts. I liked the the Invention of Wings much better.(less)
Dana Per the author's notes:
The original idea of the "wings" came from black folklore where people in Africa were thought to fly and then lost their wings…more
Per the author's notes:
The original idea of the "wings" came from black folklore where people in Africa were thought to fly and then lost their wings when captured as slaves.

Wings mean freedom. The Invention of...means how these characters came to find their personal freedom through abolition and women's rights.

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Historical Fiction 2014
7th out of 373 books — 2,199 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingPride and Prejudice by Jane AustenThe Fairfax Fix by Dorothy May MercerThe Wicked Garden by Lenora Henson
Best Books Written By Women
195th out of 812 books — 343 voters

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Community Reviews

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A must read! I found this to be one of the most powerful novels I've read... I'm from South Carolina and I love Charleston but not always her history. Im very sad that the courageousness of the Grimke Sisters is not more well known here. Wonderful writting... the atrocities of slavery and its affects are so well depicted in the voices of Sarah and Hettie. Thank you Sue for sharing this amazing story. 5 HUGE stars!
Angela M
We think that we know something about the atrocities of slavery because we learned about it in American history class, or we saw glimpses of it in a movie or a book. But it isn't until we confront a depiction of it that seems so real and horrible, that we realize how very little we really know of the injustice of slavery. Sue Monk Kidd has provided that depiction in this amazing novel.

In blending fact and fiction, she tells the story of Sarah and Angelina Grimke, two sisters from Charleston, S
I don't know how the book I read can be the same that has received 4 and 5 stars. I found the book to be mediocre at best. With very little character development the book is shallow. I felt nothing for anyone with the possible exception of Handful. Even Charleston, a character herself, especially in the slave trade, was poorly developed. This is a missed opportunity as the history coupled with the fictionalized account could have been very good. I was sadly disappointed.
Donna  Happy Booker
Audiobooks have been my preferred reading format for about 5 years now, and I probably listen to at least 30 audiobooks a year, but it is rare that I come across an audio so beautifully narrated and a story so deeply stirring that it leaves me feeling like anything I can say about it will be inadequate.

The Invention of Wings was a powerful story of a turbulent time in history and that was conveyed in the brilliant narration by Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye. The story alternates points of view f
Patrice Hoffman
Sue Monk Kidd is the bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees so it's no surprise that she's back on the scene with an Oprah approved title. The Invention of Wings, similar to it's Bees, takes place in the south and follows the lives of two women. Where the two novels differ is that The Invention of Wings takes place during a time in American history when the south wanted nothing more than to preserve its lot in the slave trade.

Sarah Grimke and Hetty(Handful) alternate the narration of thi
I was not expecting this book to grab my heartstrings and pull the way that it did. It was unexpected, fresh, and interesting. I literally read this book in two sittings, and wasn't ready for it to end when it did. In fact, I actually thought I had more to read, but quickly found out that the author's note was stuck in there!!

Sue Monk Kidd outdid herself with the amount of research she had to do to keep this novel accurate, and taking liberties with telling the story of Hetty Handful and Sarah G
Diane S.
Where to start in trying to explain all the amazing things this novel contained. It is powerful, intense, profound and amazing in every way. The real life

Gremke sisters, born into a family of wealth, on a plantation that of course had slaves, in Charleston in the middle of the 19th century, but before the Civil War. This is their story and the story of others who also fought for the abolishment of slavery. It is also the story of Handful, a slave and her mother on the Gremke plantation.

Some was
3.5 Stars

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd was a really interesting and well researched novel about the lives of the Grimke Sisters.
Firstly I have to applaud the author for including a detailed Author's Note at the end of this beautiful novel and updating the readers on what is in fact fiction and what events really happened in the lives of the Grimke Sisters. I feel this is so important in historical fiction which is inspired by real events.

I have read a good few books dealing with
I had heard so many good things about Sue Monk Kidd that I thought I’d give her latest novel a try. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed with it. Basically it is a fairly run of the mill story about two girls of a similar age in the nineteenth century who grow up in different social settings – one a slave and one her owner.

Yes the story is interesting and the contrasts it paints between the different social strata of society in nineteenth century Charleston is well done. However I didn’t t
B the BookAddict

This is a book whose topic is one which makes me feel supremely uncomfortable; slavery. Usually, I avoid books like this, they make me feel wretched and sad; tethered as I am here in 2014 and utterly powerless to change history. Before this novel, I knew nothing of Sarah Grimke and her sister Nina and I'm grateful to Sue Monk Kidd for enlightening me.

Sarah Grimke was the eighth child of fourteen children, Nina the twelfth, their father was a plantation owner but the family lived in Charleston an
This powerful novel begins in 1803 and follows the life of two girls into womanhood; neither of whom follow the path proscribed for them by convention and the world they are born into. Sarah Grimke is the daughter of a wealthy and influential family. Her father is a judge on South Carolina’s highest court, her snobbish, overbearing and constantly pregnant mother, Mary, descended from the first families of Charleston. On her eleventh birthday, Sarah is presented with Handful, the slave daughter o ...more
At the age of 11, I owned a slave I couldn't free.

This is a book primarily about two girls, both of who are trapped within lives that they cannot change, but who ultimately grow into extraordinary and inspirational women.

The novel begins in 1803. Sarah Grimke is the daughter of Judge Grimke, and a middle child in a large family who form part of the aristocratic class of Charleston, South Carolina. The Grimkes, like all other rich white families in the town, rely on slaves to sustain their l
First off, before I get into the actual review, I think it's necessary to explain my history with the author, Sue Monk Kidd. When I was fourteen, I received a book recommendation from one of my mom's friends, which ended up being The Secret Life of Bees. I was just at that age where books didn't fascinate me as much as when I was a little kid, and my book selection was getting increasingly pickier. As I was reading the book coming home from a trip to Mexico, I felt an overwhelming connection to ...more
Mar 12, 2015 Laz rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, every one
“She said it again, "I'm tired."
She wanted me to tell her it was all right, to get her spirit and go on, but I couldn't say it. I told her, "Course you're tired. You worked hard your whole life. That's all you did was work."
"Don't you remember me for that. Don't you remember I'm a slave and work hard. When you think of me, you say, she never belong to those people. She never belong to nobody but herself."
She closed her eyes. "You remember that."
"I will, mauma.”

When Sarah Grimké turned 11 h
I KNOW my emotional response to this book. I liked it, so three stars it has to get. But why? What is it that has prevented me from giving it more?

Please read the above book summary. I am not going to repeat all of that. I assume you know that this book is based on the two real-life Grimke sisters that fought for the Abolitionist and Women's Rights movement in the 1830s and 1840s.

The book is well researched. It has an excellent epilogue that in detail specifies what is and is not fictional. Man
2.5 stars - It was alright, an average book.

While being well written and interesting enough to keep me engaged, this book was ultimately a let down and did not even come close to meeting the expectations that have been set by the hype surrounding it.

I love historical fiction that is based on actual figures/events and was excited to read about the Grimke sisters, the first female abolition agents and among the earliest major American feminist thinkers. Unfortunately, the focus on their actions to
I started this novel after reading the article by essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic (May 21, 2014) calling for reparations for American slavery. The essay (and cover story) focuses on how institutional racism and Jim Crow segregation prevented blacks from succeeding generation after generation. The federal backed housing policy between the 1930s and through the 1960s all but assured African Americans could not be legitimate homeowners. The essay was an uncomfortable and devastating read ...more
Debbie Shoulders
Sue Monk Kidd has a way with words but interesting sentences don't necessarily turn into a great story.

Shedding light on a fellow native Charlestonian, this is fictional retelling of Sarah Grimke, an abolitionist and early pioneer for women's rights. To help tell her story, Monk Kidd juxtaposes an imagined tale of a slave owned by Grimke's family, Handful.

Both women yearn to be more than society allows, a challenge to imagine when one lives in a time of so many opportunities.

The problem is tha
Excellent mix of fiction and the real. This well-written book brings slavery to the personal level and depicts just how cruel, ingrained, and tightly grasped it was in a large part of our country. Whites, particularly Southern whites, for the most part didn't even want to admit these slaves were human because then they might have to face exactly what they were doing to hold on to their way of life. And, anyone who deviated from this blindness was ostracized or worse. Speaking out and "mixing" br ...more
12/17/14 Reread book for a book discussion. This is one of my favorite books of 2014.

7/23/14 Sue Monk Kidd has written a wonderful historical novel about two women struggling in Charleston--one struggling against the shackles of slavery, and the other giving a voice to the abolitionist cause and women's rights. When Sarah Grimke turned 11 years old in 1803, she was given a slave Hetty (called "Handful") as a birthday present. Even at that young age, Sarah was an abolitionist and tried to refuse
This book is as good as people say it is! Page-turning engrossing! Vibrantly imagined! Pulsing with life...(devastating torture, tender humanity, and an extraordinary achievement in storytelling)

I'm giving it 5 Stars ---(4.5 stars for sure)!!!!!

Given there must be at least 5,000 reviews of this book already ---I'm going to pick out a quote (page 115), in which I felt this story took a major turn. A 'powerful' turn':

"She had the look of someone who'd declared herself, and seeing it, my indignati
I think this book and Gone With the Wind would be like matter and antimatter—if you sat them side by side on the shelf, I would expect that they would mutually annihilate each other! Despite being written about the same society and set during the same time period, they could not be more different.

Gone With the Wind is told exclusively from a white, southern view point. The Invention of Wings is told by two, equally important narrators, one white and one black. While Scarlet O’Hara is beautiful a
We're all yearning for a wedge of sky, aren't we? I suspect God plants these yearnings in us so we'll at least try and change the course of things. We must try, that's all.

3.5 stars. Sue Monk Kidd writes beautifully, and although I enjoyed The Mermaid Chair and The Secret Life of Bees, The Invention of Wings is definitely my favorite. Sarah and Handful's voices were both authentic and strong, and I never found myself preferring one's story over the other. The fact that the book was based on the
Diane Chamberlain
My favorite book in recent months.
The Lit Bitch
4.5 stars

The only thing that I was sad about was I didn’t know this book was based on a real person’s life until the end of the book when I read about Kid’s research at the end of the novel.

I have only read one of Sue Monk Kid’s other novels, The Mermaid Chair, many years ago and I wasn’t terribly impressed with it. So I never picked up The Secret Life of Bees, but when this one came along for review, I decided to give her another try–and I’m very glad that I did.

This novel was a triple threat….
This inspiring story is a blend of fact and fiction based on actual historical figures, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, and their struggles growing up in the 1800's during a time of slavery. While Sarah and Angelina are interesting characters who abhor slavery and fight for equality of women, it is Charlotte and her daughter Hetty "Handful" who bring the book to life as they all fight for their own freedoms. A memorable and heartfelt book, but not unlike others of its kind. The Secret Life of Bees re ...more
helen the bookowl
This was a really good book about slavery in the United States in the 19th century. I was especially fond of the fact that it deals with two POVs - one is from a slave's perspective and another is from a rich girl's. The beginning was horrific but true: I couldn't believe how Handful was handed over to Sarah as a gift. But at the same time that's how the conditions were for slaves back then and I appreciated how this book made me aware of these conditions.
I also like the fact this book deals wi
Rebecca Foster
When I wrote up the critical summary of this novel for Bookmarks magazine last month, I couldn’t believe how overwhelmingly positive all the reviewers were – in newspapers and on Goodreads. Surely it can’t be that good, I thought to myself. But it really is.

I haven’t read The Secret Life of Bees, so I don’t have that point of comparison, but on this evidence I would gladly read anything else by Sue Monk Kidd. I had worried that her style would be that syrupy, cod-Southern writing you get from Re
A beautifully written book that I liked even more than Secret Life of Bees. The characters and emotions will stay with you long after you've finished. Although fiction, Invention of Wings is set in the early 1800s and loosely based on the Grimke sister - the first female abolitionists, and 2 of the earliest major, American feminist speakers. I anticipate this book will have as much of an impact as The Help. This is going to be the book of 2014!
Fascinating historical fiction based on the real-life abolitionist Grimke sisters. I knew nothing about them going in and learned so much from this book. It was absolutely "unputdownable" - so much better than I expected. I appreciated the author's notes at the end that explained exactly what was fact and what was fiction.

Very masterfully done - highly recommend.
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SUE MONK KIDD was raised in the small town of Sylvester, Georgia. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 1970 and later took creative writing courses at Emory University and Anderson College, as well as studying at Sewanee, Bread Loaf, and other writers’ conferences. In her forties, Kidd turned her attention to writing fiction, winning the South Carolina Fellowship in Literature and the
More about Sue Monk Kidd...
The Secret Life of Bees The Mermaid Chair Traveling With Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story The Dance of the Dissident Daughter When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions

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“History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.” 63 likes
“If you must err, do so on the side of audacity.” 54 likes
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