Sue Monk Kidd, the author of the highly successful The Secret Life of Bees is at it again. She faltered a bit with The Mermaid Chair which didn't garner fantastic reviews. But The Invention of Wings is, in the opinion of some of our book club members, even better than The Secret Life of Bees.
Sue Monk Kidd is a former nurse who gained some amount of fame as a contributing editor and writer for the Christian faith-based magazine Guideposts. She explores themes of feminist theology and contemplative Christianity in her writings. Now with her fiction she has gained a loyal following due to her beautiful writing and historical themes.
The Invention of Wings is a fictionalized account of the life of 19th century abolitionist, writer and women's rights crusader Sarah Moore Grimke and her sister Angelina. The book goes back and forth between Sarah's life of privilege and the family's house slave, Handful (not a real person). Both characters are well drawn but Handful's story of the punishing brutality of slavery gains the most sympathy.
The book is set in Charleston which is an interesting aspect. The author paints a clear picture of what life must have been like for city slaves versus the more well known lives of plantation slaves. Much of the story involves events that make true the saying "truth is stranger than fiction". The Invention of Wings is a historical novel that is engrossing, edifying and promotes discussion.
If the reader wants to try another Sue Monk Kidd book with the intriguing title of Traveling With Pomegranates read this memoir written with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor. It is an account of "their travels through Greece, Turkey and France at at time when each was on a quest to redefine herself and rediscover one another". Sue Monk Kidd is such a thoughtful and insightful author that it would be interesting to learn more about her.