13 April 2014

The Invention of Wings Review



by Sue Monk Kidd


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What they say: From the celebrated author of the international bestseller The Secret Life of Bees comes an extraordinary novel about two exceptional women.


Sarah Grimké is the middle daughter. The one her mother calls difficult and her father calls remarkable. On Sarah's eleventh birthday, Hetty 'Handful' Grimké is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift. Sarah knows what she does next will unleash a world of trouble. She also knows that she cannot accept. And so, indeed, the trouble begins ... 

A powerful, sweeping novel, inspired by real events, and set in the American Deep South in the nineteenth century, THE INVENTION OF WINGS evokes a world of shocking contrasts, of beauty and ugliness, of righteous people living daily with cruelty they fail to recognise; and celebrates the power of friendship and sisterhood against all the odds.


  • Published January 7th 2014 by Headline - ISBN: 1472212754 / ISBN13: 9781472212757

I received a copy as part of the Goodreads First-reads scheme 
in exchange for an honest review! 


What I say: It took me a while to be able to write up this review because I honestly didn't know where to start. The message in The Invention of Wings is extremely powerful and emotional.

I like to think my knowledge of American history is fairly good for a Brit but I learnt a great deal from the Gremke sister's story. 

The history of slavery really is a big stain on global history and the fight to abolish slavery should never be forgotten or ignored. The story Handful 'Hetty' and her mother will stay with me for a long time. Living in a free world it's difficult to comprehend the loss of freedom and the value, or lack of it, placed on humanity by people who kept slaves.

At certain points I struggled and had to walk away from the story for a while. It was difficult to read about the abuse and punishments suffered by the slaves. It was very interesting to discover what parts were real. I found it difficult to get my head around the concept of ownership. I hadn't heard about the Gremke sisters before now and it was a fascinating, yet often disturbing look into the past.

Sarah fights for a very different type of freedom than Handful but it made for an interesting juxtaposition to see the stories play out along side each other. The Invention of Wings shows how freedom in not just physical but also emotional or psychological.


With 12 Years a Slave doing so well book as a novel and as a movie it has pulled a very troubling subject into the forefront of many people's minds. The Invention of Wings is a highly emotion story which compels readers to question both the past and their own actions.




3.5 - 4 Stars in my Sky!

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