Thursday 16 January 2014

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Sarah Grimke is the middle daughter. The one her mother calls difficult and her father calls remarkable. On Sarah's eleventh birthday, Hetty 'Handful' Grimke? is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift. Sarah knows what she does next will unleash a world of trouble. She also knows that she cannot accept. And so, indeed, the trouble begins ...

Oh my goodness, where will I find the right words to do this incredible book justice! We are barely into 2014 and I know that this will be one of my top, if not my top read of the year.

When I was just twelve, I read Sue Monk Kidd's bestselling The Secret Life of Bees and if that was able to touch me as much as it did then, you can imagine how much I was affected by her outstanding latest novel, The Invention of Wings, twelve years later.

Told in the viewpoints of Handful and Sarah, we learn of how two courageous women's lives were led in South America throughout the 1800's. Handful is a slave and at just eleven, Sarah becomes Handful's unwilling owner. Although Handful is the true prisoner, Sarah is also trapped in her own life; a girl who had dreams to become a judge, but having them knocked aside because of her gender; Sarah does not see her place in the world.

The reader will have more sympathy and compassion for Handful with her view of being a slave, and the horrors that the slaves were put through, and not once did my feelings waver for Handful. I desperately wanted her to be free. As for Sarah I lost my compassion for her when she got older, but not long after, the Sarah she was as a child came back and my faith for her returned.

Sue brilliantly depicts the topics of slavery and also the suppression of women. Although the two are polar opposites in their atrocity and unjustness, both are examined very well in this story. There are shocking contrasts between Sarah's and Handful's worlds and as I reader I was deeply affected and appalled by the treatment of slaves in the nineteenth century.

As a reader you can tell just how much work and research the author had put into this and Sue's way of writing never fails to amaze me. She writes so beautifully and I personally think she is one of the best writers around. She has such a unique way of describing things that are words come alive off the page and you will feel as if you are journeying with these two women. The fact that Sue has drawn upon the real life of Sarah Grimke and her sister, makes this novel all the more powerful.

Towards the end, my heart was literally in my mouth and pounding so fast. I felt like I had been with both these women their whole lives and had grown to know and love them, so the ending was difficult reading.

A truly powerful, heart wrenching, stunning novel. This is THE read of 2014!


The Invention of Wings is available from Amazon UK and Waterstones

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