Sunday, March 23, 2014

Invention of Wings

Goodreads Review: 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.

My take on The Invention of Wings: 
 I loved this book for the simplicity at parts and the complexity of the characters.  Hetty was so head strong all her life and Sarah seemed to grow into the person that she was to become an equally headstrong ally.  This was an immensely well written story about the lives that could have been shared in this time frame.  As a Charleston native I remember passing by the Grimke house and strolling down the same streets that were mentioned.  It was a different way to think of things, I have a very large admiration for Charleston and its beauty, but in the same stroke it had its evils and those who were naive in the fact that slavery was an "ok" institution.   

One of my favorite quotes from the story was this; “Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid.”  This could have been said almost throughout the entirety of the book, but it rings close in my own life lately with the craziness and such.  As I hold onto my faith I am reminded of how Sarah searched for where she fit in with her religion and her family.  I feel very close with her lately and compelled to search for more information on a woman who seems to have a similar outlook on life as I do currently minus the fact that I do not have to assert my rights as a woman in this day in age, thanks in part to the Grimke Sisters.  

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