A story of slavery and of a woman trying to make a change...
Set in Charlotte SC in the early 1800s, it's a tale of a young girl of society given her own slave on her 11th birthday. She immediately knows it's wrong and tries to reject the 'gift'. That begins the journey of Sarah and Handful (Hetty).
The Invention of Wings, Sue Monk Kidd
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published 2014, 384 pages
I really enjoyed this book! Although I read it in 2014, as soon as I saw the title on the Oprah Book Club list I'm compiling for this blog, I was immediately reminded of how much I like this book. I really want to include this review because if you haven't read the book yet, I'm hoping to encourage you to pick it up.
"To remain silent in the face of evil is itself a form of evil."
In a wonderful blending of fact and fiction, Kidd tells the stories of Sarah and Handful. Each chapter alternates between the women as their lives come together and apart over 35 years. Sarah is 11 years old and given Handful as a birthday gift. From that beginning, we see the struggle of a girl/woman who fights against slavery and the beliefs of her family and community for what she believes is right and the struggle of a slave woman who wants to be free and struggles against the injustices of slavery.
“People say love gets fouled by a difference big as ours. I didn’t know for sure whether Miss Sarah’s feelings came from love or guilt. I didn’t know whether mine came from love or a need to be safe. She loved me and pitied me. And I loved her and used her. It never was a simple thing. That day, our hearts were pure as they ever would get.”
I found the writing terrific and the story compelling. It has stuck with me all these years! Though there were certainly sad, disturbing situations, there were also instances of strength and courage.
“We 're all yearning for a wedge of sky, aren't we? I suspect God plants these yearnings in us so we'll at least try and change the course of things. We must try, that's all."
I didn't know until the end that it's based on extensive research on the life of Sarah Grimke, one of the first women abolitionists. That made it even more impactful, if that's possible.
As I remember, my only tiny quibble with the story is the convenient and somewhat Hollywood ending, but that is easily overlooked with the quality of the rest of the book. Highly recommended.
photo by Terrie Purkey, Wormsloe Oak Dr, Savannah, GA