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Thursday, February 13, 2014

"The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd

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.


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.


PARTICULARS OF THIS BOOK :

Published by:  Viking Adult
Pages:  384
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Author:  Sue Monk Kidd


ABOUT THE AUTHOR :




Sue Monk Kidd first made her mark on the literary circuit with a pair of highly acclaimed, well-loved memoirs detailing her personal spiritual development. However, it was a work of fiction, The Secret Life of Bees, that truly solidified her place among contemporary writers. Although Kidd is no longer writing memoirs, her fiction is still playing an important role in her on-going journey of spiritual self-discovery.

Despite the fact that Kidd's first published books were nonfiction works, her infatuation with writing grew out of old-fashioned, Southern-yarn spinning. As a little girl in the little town of Sylvester, Georgia, Kidd thrilled to listen to her father tell stories about "mules who went through cafeteria lines and a petulant boy named Chewing Gum Bum," as she says on her web site. Inspired by her dad's tall tales, Kidd began keeping a journal that chronicled her everyday experiences. 
Such self-scrutiny surely gave her the tools she needed to pen such keenly insightful memoirs as When the Hearts Waits and The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, both tracking her development as both a Christian and a woman. "I think when you have an impulse to write memoir you are having an opportunity to create meaning of your life," she told Barnes & Noble.com, "to articulate your experience; to understand it in deeper ways... and after a while, it does free you from yourself, of having to write about yourself, which it eventually did for me."   Once Kidd had worked the need to write about herself out of her system, she decided to get back to the kind of storytelling that inspired her to become a writer in the first place. Her debut novel The Secret Life of Bees showed just how powerfully the gift of storytelling charges through Kidd's veins. The novel has sold more than 4.5 million copies, been published in over twenty languages, and spent over two years on The New York Times bestseller list.   Even as Kidd has shifted her focus from autobiography to fiction, she still uses her writing as a means of self-discovery. This is especially evident in her latest novel The Mermaid Chair, which tells the story of a woman named Jessie who lives a rather ordinary life with her husband Hugh until she meets a man about to take his final vows at a Benedictine monastery. Her budding infatuation with Brother Thomas leads Jessie to take stock of her life and resolve an increasingly intense personal tug-of-war between marital fidelity and desire.
Kidd feels that through telling Jessie's story, she is also continuing her own journey of self-discovery, which she began when writing her first books. "I think there is some part of that journey towards one's self that I did experience. I told that particular story in my book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and it is the story of a woman's very-fierce longing for herself. The character in The Mermaid Chair Jessie has this need to come home to herself in a much deeper way," Kidd said, "to define herself, and I certainly know that longing."


THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :

This is a tough one for me because I am surely standing against a large crowd of people who just loved this book and have given it rave reviews.  It was a good book, but I expected more from Sue Monk Kidd at this point.  We could say she's a prolific writer by now, certainly since her "The Secret Life of Bees."  I thought she would have grown some in her style and presentation.  I was a bit disappointed in that.

I found her "voice" to be somewhat juvenile and simplistic...or something to that affect.  The characters had a good deal to convey about their lives, but it was done in such a way as to make it seem like a young adult was telling the story.  At least to me it seemed so.  Throughout the book, I kept wishing they would "grow up!"  While the storyline was interesting, the narration was faulty in my humble opinion.

I don't know if this was the result of having a true account and trying to build the fiction around it.  But, it seemed contrived in parts.  Or, I just may not be a fan of her style of writing...

The characters, nevertheless, were engaging in their own ways.  I just felt they were a bit shallow within the story.

I seem to be one of the very few who feels this way, so I would take my review with a grain of salt and read this book for yourself.  The story of Sarah and Hetty is presented in the book without a doubt, and that fact alone may carry you through it.  Good, but not great.

3 stars             Deborah/TheBookishDame


 

4 comments:

bermudaonion

I'm listening to this right now and, so far, I like it. We'll see if it ends well for me.

Elizabeth

I LOVED this book. Stop by to see my FAVORITE books if you like.

Elizabeth
Silver's Reviews
My Favorite Books

Deb

Yes, as I've said, "a good book" but just not one of my favorites. Maybe I've read too many books by other authors on the same subject!

Cheryl

I just started reading this. I like it so far, but I'm just getting into it. I loved The Secret Life of Bees, but I didn't really love her second novel, The Mermaid Chair. If this one falls somewhere between them, I will be happy!

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