Invention of Wings Audiobook 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.
Sue Monk Kidd got her start in writing when a personal essay she wrote for a writing class was published in Guideposts and reprinted in Reader’s Digest. She went on to become a Contributing Editor at Guideposts.
Her first three books were spiritual memoirs describing her experiences in contemplative Christianity, the last telling the story of her journey from traditional Christianity to feminist theology. God’s Joyful Surprise: Finding Yourself Loved (Harper SanFrancisco, 1988) is focused on abandoning a hopeless quest for perfection and accepting one is loved as one is. When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life’s Sacred Questions (Harper SanFrancisco, 1990) tells of her painful midlife crisis. Finally, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine (Harper SanFrancisco, 1996), discussed her encounter with women’s spirituality.
Her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees (2002), is set during the American civil rights movement of 1964, telling the story of a white girl who runs away from home to live with a woman who now works as an independent bee-keeper and honey-maker with many of her sisters. It has been adapted as an award-winning play in New York and debuted off Broadway at the Atlantic Theater. The novel was also adapted as a movie of the same name by Fox Searchlight, starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys and Sophie Okonedo. The Secret Life of Bees movie won two People’s Choice Awards at the 35th annual awards ceremony, taking home Best Movie Drama and Best Independent Movie.
Invention of Wings Audiobook Reviews
The Invention of Wings is written in two voices. The first – Sarah Grimke, daughter of a wealthy judge and plantation owner in Charleston, North Carolina. Sarah and her sister Angelina are directly from history, well known as early abolitionists and women’s right activists… you can easily read about them on the internet, but don’t until you finish the book.
The second voice – “Handful” or Hettie, the 9 year old slave girl who is given to Sarah for her 11th birthday present. The book follows both girls… for 35 years… as Hettie’s mostly fictional life is stitched alongside Sarah’s mostly factual life. The two voices compare and contrast in a patchwork I found beautiful.
The audio is really good, but I have to tell you after listening to “The Help” so many times Jenna’s voice would occasionally break the spell and I would see “Skeeter” in my mind instead of Sarah.
At the end Sue Monk Kidd explains her research, what parts are historically accurate and where she has taken liberties… made it even more meaningful. A life quilt is pieced during the book by Hettie’s mother, but I can picture the book itself as a quilted story… of reaching, losing, dreaming and becoming.
Listen To Invention of Wings Audiobook
Sue Monk Kidd second novel, The Mermaid Chair (2005), won the 2005 Quill Award for General Fiction. The story concerns a woman who upon coming home to an island off the coast of South Carolina becomes attracted to a Benedictine monk who is just a few months short of taking his final vows. The title refers to a chair in his monastery carved with mermaids dedicated to a female saint said to be a mermaid before her conversion and who is patroness of the island. It was adapted as a 2006 Lifetime movie of the same name. The movie starred Kim Bassinger and Bruce Greenwood.
In 2006, Firstlight, a collection of Kidd’s early writings, was published in hardcover by Guideposts Books; it was published in paperback by Penguin in 2007.
After traveling with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor, to sacred sites in Greece, Turkey, and France, Kidd and Taylor co-authored a memoir, Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story. Published by Viking in 2009, it appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times list and has been published in several languages.
Her 2014 novel, The Invention of Wings, is set during the antebellum years and based on the life of Sarah Grimké, a 19th-century abolitionist and women’s rights pioneer. The novel debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list and was later selected for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. In April, Kidd appeared in an interview with Oprah on OWN’s Super Soul Sunday episode.
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