Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Invention of Wings

Sue Monk Kidd
  I have been following this author for some time.  So I was excited when Oprah chose her new book for her book club.

"The Invention of Wings"
I am always interested in a novel about slavery.  I have no idea why this topic fascinates me so much.  I know that there will be a great deal of pain.  But there is so much emotion in these books. This particular book was missing the exquisite language of Sue Monk Kidd's other books, but has a great plot and interesting characters.  I was surprised to learn at the end that the sisters in the novel were real people.

Sarah and Angelina Grimke were born into Charleston aristocracy.  They were always opposed to slavery in spite of the fact that Sarah's present from her parents for her 11th birthday was a 10-year-old slave, called "Helpful".
Much is known about Sarah and Angelina as they moved north to Philadelphia and joined the Quakers.  The sisters began speaking around the country, but their message became too extreme for the Quakers, who wanted them to stay with an abolition theme.  However, they felt strongly about feminism and, basically, spoke for freedom for all.
  They were involved with the American Anti-Slavery Society but were radicals in that circle also.
  I was interested in their connection with John Greenleaf Whittier, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  I googled for information about each of these fellows and their involvement in the abolitionist movement.  Interesting!
 There isn't as much information about the slave that was given to Sarah, so the author needed to invent a story for her.  The whole story is told by alternating narrators- Sarah and Helpful.  This certainly gives different points of view.
  At the end of the novel, the author explains how much of the story is based on fact and what is invented.
  Speaking of invention....what about the title?

  "Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you?" (Diane Setterfield in "The Thirteenth Tale")
   This is what I experienced after reading "The Invention of Wings".  I was unable to connect with any of the other books on my pile.  Penny would say that I have a 'book hangover'.  I want to think about this book a while longer......

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