Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Format: Audio
13 hrs and 46 mins 
Series: NA
Source: Audible
Genres: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Publication date: January 7th, 2014 

First impression

I had heard so many wonderful things about this book, ever since it came about, almost a year ago but hadn't gotten around to reading it. During the holidays, I had some extra time and had an extra credit on Audible, so I went for it.

The story is told from 2 POVs: Sarah Grimcke, the daughter of a plantation owner in Charleston and Hetty "Handful" Grimcke, a slave for the family. The 2 girls grow together, very close on age, and the develop something close to a friendship. Both prisoners in very different ways, both trying to break free from the roles society has imposed on them. They grow up to be strong women still in each other's life, until the end and end up helping the other out in ways they didn't see coming.

The role of Sarah Grimcke is based on a real character of the early abolitionist movement, and the author is very clear about the fact that there was a lot of fiction added to this story, the final product being a very emotional and touching story.

Final thoughts

I haven't read The Secret Life of Bees so this is my first contact with the author's style, but now I want to get my hands on her previous books. Speckled with historic facts, this novel takes the reader through the first steps of the abolition movement through the eyes of Sarah, who is not only fighting against slavery but also against the set ideas against women. On the other hand, Hatty represents the hardest conditions, being a slave AND a woman: the description of punishments, mistreatments and her life in general are heartbreaking, even more so when you think about the fact that this is perfectly realistic to how slaves were treated.

The book is presented in several parts, all of them representing a couple of years of the girls/women story, beginning when they are merely 11 years old, up to their 40s/50s. The author makes a wonderful job at building their characters, showing how these changes with age and with the marking events they bath have to encounter. The constant contrast of where each one of the main characters were is probably one of the strongest assets of the book, in my own opinion.

I don't know how much of the intensity I felt from both characters is due to the narrators, but for me, they were both very charged, full of emotion, particularly Hetty. The flow of the story made for a seamless narrative and so I got carried away with the story, so much that when it ended I stayed sitting in my chair for a couple of minutes savouring the conclusion of it.

I cannot compare this book to any of her previous work, so I cannot suggest to anyone that they should start with this one; however I can say that if like me is your first approach to Sue Monk Kidd, is a good one, with well developed characters and interesting views of the 19th century USA. Both Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye do a wonderful job giving a voice to Sarah and Hetti.

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