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The Invention of Wings
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The Invention of Wings > Question #1 First Impressions

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 01, 2015 04:38PM) (new)

Join us this month as we discuss "Fiction from Fact."

'The struggle of 19th-century abolitionist and women's rights pioneer Sarah Grimké is at the heart of Sue Monk Kidd's powerful new historical novel. Set ... in the American deep south, where she grew up, The Invention of Wings unflinchingly depicts the brutality of slavery in vivid and meticulous detail.

This is a world in which "owning people was as natural as breathing" and on her 11th birthday Sarah, the daughter of a wealthy family, is given 10-year old slave-girl Handful as a gift, wrapped in lavender ribbons. But for Sarah, it feels far from "natural" and she rails against the notion of slavery, teaching Handful to read and promising one day to free her – an eventuality that drives the plot as the years progress from 1803 to 1838. By alternating chapters between the first-person voices of Sarah and Handful, we are plunged deep into both perspectives; they share a visceral yearning and "torrential aches" for racial and gender equality.' (The Guardian, January 5, 2014).

What are your first impressions of Sarah and Handful? Do you like the author's use of alternating chapters featuring their separate voices?


message 2: by Jenniferria (new)

Jenniferria | 14 comments I loved this book right from the beginning. Kidd's ability to create dynamic, multifaceted characters always draws me in. I felt like I knew both Sarah and Handful and I rooted for them both.


Jennifer Patrick | 57 comments Mod
I really enjoyed this book and I just flew through the pages! I enjoyed the perspectives of the slave and the slave owners, each in its own discerning voice. It helped with the bigger picture of what was happening at the time.


Kate (arwen_kenobi) | 100 comments Mod
I really liked this one too. I think the alternating perspectives between Sarah and Handful really worked out to the book's favour.


Susan (susanopl) | 472 comments Mod
Handful is such a feisty character, right from the start. She is so direct and has a great sense of humour, whether intentional, or not. Sarah, of course, is more reserved and proper. Their parallel stories made the book so much richer. Seeing life from the viewpoint of a slave and privileged slave owner gave us a more balanced view of what like in early-nineteenth century Charleston. Both stories kind of grabbed me from the start, and I often couldn't decide which one I preferred to be reading the most. I don't think we could have known how Sarah came to be an abolitionist without seeing Handful's side of things.


Maureen B. | 212 comments Again, just managed to get a hold of the book so trailing behind on the discussion! It seems to me that both Sarah and Hetty are both depicted so well as women of their time and place, women who didn't fit in and who didn't give in either. I find myself rooting for both of them, for Sarah's need to be acknowledged as a thinking human being and Hetty's profound need for freedom. The little song she sang, 'to cross the water, cross the sea' as she watched the boats in the harbour was perhaps not likely but beautifully symbolic of her yearning.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Maureen wrote: "Again, just managed to get a hold of the book so trailing behind on the discussion! It seems to me that both Sarah and Hetty are both depicted so well as women of their time and place, women who di..."

I couldn't agree with you more Maureen! The character development of both women was so strong, I felt like I knew them. And I definitely rooted for them right from the beginning. I felt like I could see bits of myself growing up in both characters.

The notion of young women struggling to have their own voice recognized and the want to be free to make their own decisions is a strong theme in women's coming of age stories. Kidd captures those themes amazingly well.


Emily Burns (emilymelissabee) | 124 comments Mod
Like Maureen, I just finished the novel so I'm behind on the conversation! I really enjoyed The Invention of Wings. It was my first introduction to Sue Monk Kidd, and I was pleased at how immersive this novel was. Handful and Sarah were both so compelling in their own ways.


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