Sue Monk Kidd “The Invention of Wings”

I stumbled upon Sue Monk Kidd’s „The Invention of Wings“ while looking for „The Secret Life of Bees“. When reading the novel I suddenly had this feeling of deja vu, of being thorwn back in time to the period when I was reading the great novels of the 19th century authors. And that’s exactly the period described in the novel – American deep south at the beginning of 19th century. The story is based on historical facts and figures. The two Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelina, were born and raised in a wealthy and powerful slave-holding family in Charleston, South Carolina. The sisters felt slavery was a grave injustice and they both became the most famous, as well as the most infamous women in America, being the first female abolition agents and among the first feminist thinkers.

In this subtle but still powerful and beautiful novel two intertwined stories unfold before the reader: a story of Sarah Grimke and a story of a slave girl named Handful. They are both feeling trapped by circumstances they are born in. They are both imprisoned, Handful by slavery, Sarah by convention. They both belong to the ones silenced in the society. Still Handful sees the difference between them: „My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it’s the other way round.“ Sarah feels deep pain by the injustice of slavery and the cruelty of people, while Handful dreams about „finding her wings“ and breaking to freedom.

This is a story of courage and love, of women searching a purpose in life and finding their path and their genuine voice. Handful’s story is one the most powerful and touching I have read recently.


Tinder press, 2014

Check from the e-catalogue ESTER.
Check Sue Monk Kidd’s other novel “The Secret Life of Bees” from the e-catalogue ESTER.

Eha Elmi
Department of Literature in Foreign Languages

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