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.
©2014 Sue Monk Kidd (P)2014 Penguin Audio
"Narrators Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye are well matched in talent; their performances of Kidd's dual-viewpoint fictionalized story of Sarah Grimké and her handmaid, Handful, complement each other perfectly. Both Lamia and Oduye adopt an accent and rhythm that befit the social status of their characters, modifying their voices subtly as the two protagonists grow from innocent girls to world-weary middle-aged women. Lamia keys in on Grimké's frustrations and victories in her fight for both abolition and women's rights, making it easy for listeners to sympathize with Grimké's difficult choices. Oduye's interpretation of Handful's personality, including her pride as a skilled seamstress and her yearning for freedom and self-identity, helps listeners connect emotionally to the slave. Together the narrators have created a stellar audiobook." (AudioFile)
There's nothing I disliked about this story. I'm so glad that Ms Monk Kidd was able to bring to the present the inspiring story of the Grimke sisters in such a meaningful way. And the narrators were so talented that they made the story that much better. Thank you!
Sue Monk Kidd has such a beautiful way with words. Beyond a compelling story and characters, the phrases with which she describes them and their surroundings evoke crystal clear pictures. I am buying the paper copy of the book in order to mark up all the beautiful phrases so I can revisit them!
I adored this book.
The characters were rich and developed and complex. I loved them.
I cried at the end listening to the authors words of how she came to discover these characters.
One of the best audible experiences yet.
Had a very hard time getting into The Invention of Wings, perhaps due to how instantly accessible were The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid's Chair. Attempted it two or three times before I just forced myself to listen. And, I was amply awarded.
Sue Monk Kidd starts with such relentless suffering of both Sarah Grimke of the white slave owner family and Hetty, her mother Charlotte, and all the slaves in this nineteenth century Charleston household, that I kept switching to podcasts or lighter fiction. The senseless torture of the slaves was excruciating. But, the story line picked up steam over the course of the novel and the historical events, upon which this book was based, were fascinating and brought to life through endearing, complex, courageous characters.
A pivotal time in American history, the seeds of the abolishment of slavery were being sown, mainly in the north, but trickling down to the south. What we rarely read about is that Women's Rights also began to gain awareness at the same time. Interesting how many men, especially Quakers, became such vigilant Abolitionists, but thought it petty and self serving for women to push to have the same rights as men.
Having run into all too many bright and creative 20 year olds who oddly know so little about how horrendously blacks were treated when we kidnapped them from Africa nor do they know, for much of this country's history, women were treated as property and inferior. They also tend to dismiss or look down on present day Feminist advocates or issues, seeing them as irrelevant. Human Rights—which are supposedly espoused by our Constitution and Bill of Rights to be equal for all—still sadly apply all too often only to rich white males.
This is historical fiction at its best and Audible adds in an interesting post log by author Sue Monk Kidd, who offers up a lot of the original events upon which she based her novel.
As a wake is hard to penetrate, once surfing the wave you never want to leave. Push through the start and you'll be swiftly picked up by the inspiring and informative tale of courage and creativity in 19th Century America. You'll not be able to put it down until the story is completed, and you'll be rethinking and telling others about it for weeks to come.
Loved how this is based upon real strong women and told from both a slave and white girl's points of view. The actresses who read this really brought the story alive. Now I want to go visit Charleston.
I really didn't know what this was about when I ordered it, and although it's not a type of story I usually like, it was totally enjoyable. I would like to have known what the author says at the end, before I started reading. Turns out this is historical fiction and the two sisters were real. That makes it even more interesting.
Mesmerizing, Hellacious, Truthful
I loved the strong female leads in this book... however I'm torn between Sarah and Heddie
Heddie and Sarah... I'd want to know the real words behind the storyline and how future generations of women could stand up to the horror that was placed upon those before us.
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