Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Invention of Wings

After another night of rain, the sun is shining!  Who knows for how long!  We have not had this much rain in years.  The yard is very soggy.  The dogs do not want to go out in it especially our littlest dog, Tuxxe.  He does not like getting his paws dirty.  Wolfie and Doozy get their paws wiped when they come inside (otherwise we would have mud all over). Doozy loves to try and run past me into the house to avoid getting his paws cleaned.  He thinks it is funny to go and jump on my bed!  

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is a remarkable historical novel.  The book starts out in February of 1805 in Charleston, South Carolina.  Hetty Handful Grimke is ten years old and a slave in the Grimke household.  Her mother is Charlotte and the seamstress of the house.  Sarah Moore Grimke is turning eleven years old and is leaving the nursery.  She is finally getting her own room and her mother is giving her a “waiting maid” as a present.  Handful (as Sarah calls her) is Sarah’s new maid.  Sarah is against slavery and does not want to own a slave.  She tries to refuse, but her mother will not back down.  Sarah is very intelligent. She loves to read and learn (not what she is taught at the girl’s school, but what her older brother teaches her).  Her father has reluctantly given her access to his library (she loves to read books on mythology, law, history).  Sarah is a very unusual girl for her time.  Sarah’s draft up manumission paper for Hetty, but her parents destroy them.

Sarah rebels by teaching Hetty to read.  They get up to 100 words before they are discovered.  Sarah no longer has access to the library and Hetty gets the whip.  Hetty’s mother, Charlotte, is always pushing the boundaries.  She steals small items (and usually no one notices), she found a way to sell her sewing work (since the missus would not give permission) and earn money, and is dallying with a free black man in town (when she is supposed to be buying material).   Is she setting the right example for Hetty?

Sarah at one point gives her ownership of Hetty back to her parents.  Hetty then becomes the assistant seamstress in the house and turns out to be even better than her mother.  Sarah spends a lot of her time helping to raising Angelina or Nina.  Sarah had requested to be the child’s godmother (which she got despite her mother’s misgivings).  Sarah raises Nina in her image (strong, determined, rebellious, and very intelligent).  When Sarah’s father becomes very ill, Sarah takes him up north to see a specialist (her mother wanted her out of the house).  Sarah gets to experience a different way of life and likes it.  After her father dies, Sarah delays returning home as long as she can.

When Sarah returns home, she is not happy.  She finds her way to a Quaker settlement in the north (where she does not quite fit in).  Sarah is determined to find a way for her voice to be heard.  The book tells of how Sarah as well as Nina fight for abolishment of slavery as well as rights for women.  We get to see how Hetty rebels in her own way as she grows up.  The Invention of Wings is a complex novel, but very enjoyable.  I was not sure I would like this book and I ended up riveted.  I give The Invention of Wings 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Please be aware that there are some scenes that go into detail on slave punishments (especially the one involving a rope and a foot).  The Invention of Wings is a well-written and deeply moving novel.  I will definitely be reading more books by Sue Monk Kidd.

I received a complimentary copy of The Invention of Wings from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  The review and opinions expressed are my own.

I am currently reading Lorie's Heart by Amy Lillard (it is very good).  Have a fun and relaxing Saturday!  Happy Reading!

The Avid Reader

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