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)
This book is thoughtfully written in the voice of two main characters-a slave girl and the daughter of the slave owner. I would have given it 5 stars but the middle part got a little dragged out.
Disclaimer: I did not know this book was based on historical figures and events until the afterword.
Well, this is an eloquently written book about people who don't really do much, seem to stay stuck in the ruts they are in and often abandon their dreams. For most of the book, it dwells on the author's invention of muses for Sarah Grimke, who was actually a fascinating woman. Unfortunately, the fascinating (and true) part of her life just begins as the book is reaching its conclusion. Kidd weaves in actual people and events (fictionalizing them for the book) and this often slows down the pace. I was very pleasantly surprised to learn in the afterword that Sarah was a real historical figure, even if most of this book is fiction; I would have been far more disappointed had this revelation not come.
The book does a great job of describing the horrors and hopelessness of slavery, along with the political and social eggshells of America in the pre-Lincoln age. The narration is excellent. The problem is story: for a history book it spends way to much time in fiction, and for a novel it tries to hard to tie historical people and events together. Very slow pace and hapless characters - for most of the book I felt I was wading through shallow quicksand.
The characters were so clear that I felt like I was living the book. The story was very well portrayed and so real. I would highly recommend this to anyone.
I like the audio version for the linguistic sound of African American speech
Characters well developed
linguistic natural voice sounds
I loved the story, the real parts, the parts she created. Its a great novel
The development of Sarah's character
Just a great, great book and the narration is spot on!!! Heddy and Sarah are wonderful!!!
I enjoyed the two people who read the book. The story was engaging and very well done. The research Susan Monk Kidd does is exceptional!
I absolutely loved this book. I feel so bummed that it's over. The historical aspect of this is what made this book so special, not to mention the AMAZING writing. The reading of Sarah and handful by the narrators that were chosen made this book hit the 5 star mark for me. They brought the characters to life in a way I haven't experienced in an audio book thus far. Can't wait till it's a movie!
Great writing. Excellent narration. Love the tempo, story structure and and characterizations. Kidd does well to develop two distinctly different personalities and the intricacies of their relationship to each other and the world around them. A great listen.
I absolutely loved this book! I loved that it was a long story you could commit to. Now that I have heard it I can't imagine having read it. Both narrators were so convincing you immediately felt like you understood their character! I felt like you knew where each girl would end up but following their journeys left you hopeful and excited! I will recommend this to everyone!
I don't usually review books but this one was a wonderful story well narrated. The characters were well drawn, the storyline fascinating and the narrator did a fine job of bringing it all to life. I also enjoyed the author's notes at the end. Very enjoyable book.
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