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)
I did not read the print version
Susan Monk has again captured my attention in this most enjoyable tale.
The audible version captures your attention and takes you on an adventure.
This book really tried to make something interesting out of a historical figure who, all in all, really didn't have enough of a story to drive a fairly long novel. The fictional character of Handful gave us a bit more in terms of interest, but the entire novel seemed like a long plodding backstory waiting for something to finally happen. And I do know the subject matter is very important. What was of interest, surprisingly, was the lengthy after note narrated by the author in which she details all of her research, and what is fact and what is fiction. I loved this part.
The acting in the book is magnificent told through two very distinct voices.
Secret Life of Bees, The Help, The Color Purple, Slaves in the Family
40-something with a mind that still believes I'm 20 something but a body screaming otherwise! I enjoy listening to Audible books to break the monotony of grading papers and writing exams, care plans, and other various academic baloney. It's a way to escape into another place, another time, and another life. I appreciate the availability of this platform.
I didn't read the printed version
The Help... the stories are not similar in their structure or the stories that are told. However, I couldn't help but relate the struggles of Heddie and Charlotte to those of some of the main characters in the Help. Perhaps that it is due solely to the content matter and less about the characters themselves.
The voices... Listening to a book that is narrated by multiple readers brings inflection and emotion to the words; transforming them into something far more personal and meaningful.
Charlotte... I find her heroism to be so profound and it really touched me.
As I listened to this book, I found myself grieving for the characters in the book; and grieving for the acts perpetuated upon them. I also found myself feeling quite ashamed of being white and knowing that these times were so incredibly different to ours, but ashamed nonetheless for the brutality so often visited upon people who had no rights or repercussions to bring justice upon those whites who were so cruel and ignorant. In the end, I cried at the reunion of the beloved friends, in part because it was people like Sarah & Nina who paved the way for both the cause of abolitionism, but more so because they all took their lives into their own hands in order to be free.
Yes. I enjoyed listening while I cooked.
The mother's philosophy and instructions to her daughter
Handful based on the beliefs and values she had
I wasn't sure about the young voice of Sarah Grimke at first, but the youth in her voice carried well some of the naivety and cautiousness of the protagonist.
It told powerful stories of several interesting women: Sarah, Angelina, Hettie, and Charlotte.
The main character has a stammer, which the narrator portrays with both sympathy and without it becoming irritating to listen to.
SMK is a fine writer with a delightful mastery of the language. She is also an excellent storyteller. That would have been enough, however, when I learned that this story was based on the lives and work of two real sisters, it took everything to a much deeper level.
I couldn't help ask myself ... would I have been that brave? Would I have seen the evil in a common practice accepted by everyone in my world? Would I have risked jail and the hatred that were unleashed by speaking my beliefs?
It also makes me ask: what is it in my world today that is calling for that type of courage?
Thanks to SMK for introducing me to the Grimke sisters. And, thanks to the Grimke sisters for all they did to change our world.
I really enjoyed this book. It was beautifully written and the narration was great. It kept my interest and I found it hard to put down.
While listening to the invention of wings, it was as though I had been lifted away from my world and carried on the wings of a warm wind. It is set at the beginning of the 19th century, where two women with very different background interact in the most meaningful ways.
The characters come alive and it's like we get to know them. The descriptions of the weather are intensely original, and I felt like I was there, looking at the ocean with the little slave. Sarah Grimke, a historical character around whom the story is centered, shows immense courage and determination.
The voices, the accents.
I would take Charlotte out to dinner because she is the most independent minded and unique character I have ever heard about.
The author gives a personal account of how she came to write the book at the end and it is very interesting.
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