I read The Invention of Wings almost immediately after reading The Wind Done Gone. Both more or less deal with slavery and race relations. I enjoyed The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd much more. For once Oprah and I agree to some extent on a book, although my copy didn’t come with the Oprah book club seal or notes. I found it on my own.
This book takes the lives of two real sisters who fought for slave rights and then women’s rights in the early 1800s. The author said she found out about them in Chicago and wondered why she had never heard their names. Her researched turned into this fictionalized book. She took their lives and real events to write this book, but as a work of fiction it is padded with her imagination to make the book more readable.
Sarah Grimke was an intelligent girl born into a time that wanted women to be educated just enough to run a home. Her father was indulgent and allowed her to read the books in his library and let her brother tutor her in Latin. This allowed her to later become a proponent of abolition and women’s rights. In fact she and her sister Angelina were among the very first women to argue that women and men are equal.
The story is told by two women. Sarah is one, and the other is Handful, the slave girl given to Sarah on her eleventh birthday. The two cobble together a strained friendship. Sarah teaches Handful to read and tries to free her. Her family refuses to let her.
It’s the story of two women growing up and learning to set themselves free. Both face severe trials as they navigate the intricate institution of slavery and living in a man’s world. Sarah faces all sorts of backlash as she changes religion and finds her feet as an abolitionist, without the benefit of a husband. Handful tries to survive the loss of her mother, a slave uprising, and the burden of being a slave without say. Both women have to find their own sets of wings to be able to fly to freedom.
It’s a fascinating book. It’s the kind that makes me want to go and do my own research. Why haven’t I ever heard of Sarah or Angelina Grimke? I’d say the same about Handful, but she was more or less made up. The only thing I did not like about this book was the excessive use of one very foul word. There are other words out that would have worked just as well without even changing the meaning.