The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

The Invention of Wings



This month my book club will be reading The Invention of Wings (B) by Sue Monk Kidd.  The first book we every read was The Secret Life of Bees so I was very excited to be reading Kidd again ten years later. Sadly, I feel her new book doesn’t stand up well in comparison to the first. 

Sarah Grimke is a historical figure. She was a staunch abolitionist and spoke for woman’s rights long before it was common to do so. Kidd challenged herself to deliver a truthful and accurate story. She balances the novel with the fictional character of Handful a slave that worked for the Grimke family.

Narrated in both their voices in alternating chapters, the reader understands that slavery comes in many forms. Handful is an enslaved black woman and Sarah is held bound to the dictates of her family and class. The Invention of Wings is the journey both women take to become their “true” selves.  

As in The Secret Life of Bees, Kidd’s female characters are strong and powerful women able to stay determined in the face of adversities. She remained true to the historical accounting of Sarah Grimke and took just a few liberties with the truth. She was accurate too with her fictional characterization of slavery through the portrayal of Handful.

I truly appreciate the attention to detail Kidd delivers. Her intense research was obvious in the telling.  I thought Handful was a brilliant portrayal of an enslaved woman.  The reader can feel slavery through her. To this end, The Invention of Wings is an incredible story. However, for me, it was a bit too heavy and drawn out.  In an attempt to be truthful and complete, Kidd brought too much to the book. It became at times laborious. I found the ending extremely abrupt. Where it would have been appropriate to have more she gave less.

It will be a good book discussion, as all our discussions are. After ten years, I am still excited for our meetings. The Invention of Wings will definitely provide us with another lively and invigorating debate. 


One response to “The Invention of Wings

  1. susanbright February 22, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks for the review. I think I will hold off reading this one for a while!

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