The Invention of Wings

Author(s): Sue Monk Kidd

Staff Picks- Read our reviews below

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--and it is now the newest Oprah's Book Club 2.0 selection.


Hetty "Handful" Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke's daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.


Kidd's sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah's eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other's destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.


As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women's rights movements.


Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful's cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.


This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

A beautifully narrated novel based on the true story of two of the first female abolitionists in America. A saga that spans decades, this book begins with the voice of Handful, an 11 year old slave girl about to be presented as a gift to her mistress' daughter, Sarah, only a couple of years older than her. The next chapter is from Sarah's point of view, and the novel continues in this way - with the intertwining lives and perspectives of each character and their unlikely friendship that forms over the years. Sarah, encouraged by the praise of her father and her knowledge of his books, dreams of becoming a lawyer, albeit the first female one she knows of at the time. The book goes into not only the struggle of the slaves but also the rather more subtle form of entrapment in society as a woman, and the limitations placed on the fairer sex.

Sarah's dreams are disappointed and quashed time and time again by the men around her, but she never loses her desire to free the slaves, demand racial equality (hugely scandalous for her era) as well as equality between the sexes.

The novel is also so much more - felt on a personal level - of the triumphs and tragedies of the characters it describes. I loved Handful's mother Charlotte, a skilled slave seamstress who refused to ever accept her lot in life and held herself with pride and dignity until the end, clutching her story to her in the form of a quilt and rebelling repeatedly against her owners as well as refusing to step aside for white people in the street. Her fight and spirit were inspiring, but it was heartrending and brutal what they did to quell such spirit.

A book that left a deep impression on me. Jemma


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Product Information

The No. 1 New York Times bestseller from the author of THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES

Sue Monk Kidd is the award-winning and bestselling author of the novels THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES and THE MERMAID CHAIR. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs, including the New York Times bestseller TRAVELLING WITH POMEGRANATES, written with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor.

General Fields

  • : 9781472212771
  • : Headline Publishing Group
  • : Tinder Press
  • : 0.304
  • : October 2014
  • : 198mm X 129mm
  • : October 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Sue Monk Kidd
  • : Paperback
  • : 1014
  • : en
  • : 813/.6
  • : 448