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The Invention of Wings Audiobook

The Invention of Wings: A Novel

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, January 2014 - The Invention of Wings is a powerful, sweeping novel set in the American Deep South during the nineteenth century inspired by real events. Sarah Grimke is the middle daughter - the one her mother calls difficult and her father calls remarkable. On her eleventh birthday, Hetty 'Handful' Grimke is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift. Sarah knows what she does next will unleash a world of trouble… putting into motion the kind of change that never comes easy. The Invention of Wings evokes a world of shocking contrasts, of beauty and ugliness, of righteous people living daily with cruelty they fail to recognize; and celebrates the power of friendship and sisterhood against all the odds. I was hesitant to keep this book as my personal pick for January after I heard it became the next selection for Oprah’s Bookclub 2.0. After all, what more could a book ask for? But as I dug deeper and read more and more of this novel I could not let it go. It is truly one of those rare books that, in my opinion, hit all the marks of great writing: Lush language full of imagery set within as story profoundly grounded in the real world where the characters become a part of you. I can’t wait to re-live the book in audio with narrator Jenna Lamia (The Secret Lives of Bees, The Help) and actress Adepero Oduye (12 Years a Slave) taking on the roles of Sarah and Hetty - I can’t think of better voices for these characters. What an amazing way to kick-off 2014! —Tricia, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (12155 )
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Performance
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  •  
    J. Goen Washington, D.C. 03-30-15
    J. Goen Washington, D.C. 03-30-15
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    3
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    "Captivating"

    A beautiful, though sometimes harrowing, story performed convincingly by both readers. I highly recommend to anyone interested in historical fiction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    CAY Nashville, TN United States 03-29-15
    CAY Nashville, TN United States 03-29-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Great story and incredible narrators!!"

    I am so glad I listened to this book instead of just reading it. Both narrators added so much depth to the book with their accents, etc.
    The story was mesmerizing and I dreaded the moments that I had to pause my reading. I happened to tour Charleston while reading this book and I was so excited to know how historically accurate the majority of this book is. The author did her homework and highlights an incredible story of two women who we have never heard of in the history books, simply because of their gender. But they showed great perseverance and courage in the face of adversity. What a lesson for all of us!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne Hart 03-28-15
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    "Excellent story and storytelling."

    In depth character development in the writing and beautiful differentiation by the reader. Difficult at times because the subject matter is difficult and the story is so well done. And this is what makes it an exceptional book. I rarely give a rating of 5 stars. More in line with The Secret Life Of Bees, than The Mermaid Chair (which I thought was a bit weak in all areas).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen S 03-28-15
    Karen S 03-28-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Blessing to listen to"

    Beautifully spoken this story has to be better listened to versus reading. Didn't want it to end
    Don't miss it

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl 03-25-15
    Cheryl 03-25-15 Member Since 2007
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    "loved it"

    A highly recommend this historical fiction book I would definitely read more from Miss kid

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily 03-24-15
    Emily 03-24-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Powerful!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Invention of Wings the most enjoyable?

    Reading different dialect and delivery can sometimes get cumbersome as sometimes the meaning of the author's words get lost in translation. I enjoyed listening to Sarah and Hetty (Handful) tell their story as it brought me right to the 1800s in Charleston. A powerful story to begin with, the addition of voices for the main characters helped create an instant bond with the reader.


    What other book might you compare The Invention of Wings to and why?

    A good comparison might be "The Help". I found The Invention of Wings to be a more powerful and moving story (perhaps because it is loosely based on a true story?), but both books explore the relationship between black and white women living in the racially conflicted South. Though told at different periods in our nation's history, each story exposes the cruel reality of life as a black women, while also beautifully depicting their complex relationship with white woman. Both stories focus not just on the hate and abuse, but on love and dependence.


    Which character – as performed by the narrators – was your favorite?

    I found I enjoyed each character equally. Other books have left me wishing we focused on one character before hopping on to another, but I never felt this way with The Invention of Wings. I welcomed each new chapter as the book bounced between Sarah and Handful.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    YES! I listened to this story on my commute to and from work (about an hour each way) and often found myself waiting in my driveway for a few extra minutes as I just couldn't press stop!


    Any additional comments?

    Wonderful writing, amazing character development, painfully beautiful story depicting the struggle women - both black and white - faced in the early 1800s. Two thumbs up!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    StylishGal Knoxville, TN 03-23-15
    StylishGal Knoxville, TN 03-23-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Worthwhile!"

    The historical details of old Charleston, interwoven with the sisters' struggles make a worthwhile read. I can see this becoming a wonderful movie. I loved the characters of Charlotte, Heddie and Sara. Heartbreaking & enchanting, I throughly enjoyed this audio book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kindle Customer 03-22-15
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    "I could not put this down!"

    This book is beautifully written and informs us about issues that we as a society have yet to deal with. Racial inequality and gender bias still rear their ugly heads on a daily basis. Wonderfully woven, well researched and gripping literature such as this helps us to remember there's still so much work to do and we absolutely must do that work! Thanks to Sur Monk Kidd for another outstanding contribution to our understanding.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy 03-22-15
    Nancy 03-22-15
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    "Love It All"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Invention of Wings to be better than the print version?

    Haven't read the print version but the two narrators absolutely made the story for me.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It's history about women and their struggles "to be" in an all men's world, in the time they lived, and the prices paid by each.


    Have you listened to any of the narrators’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Who was the most memorable character of The Invention of Wings and why?

    Hettie (Handful) Grimke was the most outstanding simply because of her station in life and the narrator made her story more impactful than reading it on paper.


    Any additional comments?

    Would highly recommend this book and will be following up my history lessons...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Elizbeth H. Meyer 03-22-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Great read"

    I appreciated the historical influence. Written to keep listening. Performance wonderful
    Can highly recommend others to read or listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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