Michelle Isenhoff

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd

the-invention-of-wings-sue-monk-kidd_t580This book isn’t exactly children’s literature, though it is appropriate for a young adult audience. I’m featuring it today because its subject is so incredibly intertwined with that of my latest book, Ella Wood. In fact, The Invention of Wings was recommended to me by two of my blog readers after I began sharing snipets of research this past spring in anticipation of Ella Wood‘s May release. I had dedicated an entire post to the Grimke sisters. I chose not to read Ms. Kidd’s book until Ella Wood was completed. A couple months have now passed, and I finished The Invention of Wings last night.
This is the slightly fictionalized story of Sarah Grimke and a fictional slave whose character was inspired by Sarah’s actual childhood maid. It’s a beautiful, engaging tale that breathes life, motiviation, and emotion into an important historical figure, making her eminently relateable. Ms. Kidd has a grace and beauty to her prose. You all know how I love word pictures. Her writing is chock full of them. And her characters live. The harsh backdrop of history provides the only villian needed. I guarentee you will become engrossed in Sarah’s struggle to change the institution of slavery and suffer along with Handful as she endures the cruelties inflicted on her. This is a story, not a history text. One that will capture you from beginning to end. One I highly recommend.
I must stay again, Sarah and Angelina Grimke were an amazing pair of ladies. Pioneers in the abolitionist and women’s movements. Ms. Kidd, in her author note at the end of the book, mentions how shocked she was to never have heard mention of them before, and she a resident of Charleston, the Grimke’s home town. I felt much the same way when I first discovered them. I’ve done so much reading and research about the Civil War, how had I not come across these names sooner? But I did, last year, and I had to work them in Ella Wood, even though it takes place a few decades after Sarah and Angelina stopped lecturing. They provided a historical justification for my character of Emily, both for her anti-slavery and female ambition leanings, and their literature proved an excellent resource for Emily’s growth.
I read two of the biographical sources Ms. Kidd listed in her bibliography during my research last winter. Being familiar with the Grimke’s life stories made reading this fictionalized account doubly fascinating. But you don’t have to have background knowledge to enjoy a beautifully rendered tale grounded in our country’s past. Pick it up for yourself!
I know Ms. Kidd is leagues above me in fan base and notoriety, but I tweeted her anyway. I also know how busy authors are, and how obnoxious other authors begging for help can be. But Sue, if you actually read my tweet and landed here, I assure you I’m not looking for a leg up. If you’re so inclined, I’d simply like to offer you a complimentary copy of Ella Wood with no strings attached. Just because we share a love of history as well as admiration for these two fabulous ladies. And because the two books compliment each other so beautifully.

The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd

8 thoughts on “The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd

  1. I am so happy you finally read Sue Monk Kidd’s book and loved it! I enjoyed reading your thoughts about this wonderful piece of historical fiction. The story of the Grimkke sisters and their lives as abolitionists is wonderful justification for Emily in your story. I can’t wait to read the next book in 2016. And, I’m glad you contacted Kidd. I would be surprised if she doesn’t contact you. I think she would enjoy Ella Wood and Emily’s journey. I also bought the audio book for a road trip — like to introduce my husband to good literature. 🙂

  2. I loved the characters and, like you, appreciated the imagery. Great plot too, of course. I did think SMK could have done a better job making the language more authentic to the time, but perhaps she thought that would interfere with readability. Anyway, this review feels right on.

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