Sunday 16 March 2014

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I didn't know.

I've been reading and thoroughly enjoying the story of Sarah Grimké  and Handful by Sue Monk Kidd.

The Invention of Wings is a wonderfully complex, nuanced, character driven story that takes you straight into the heart of the deep South in the early 1800's.

Given the Classics Club event for this month (Feminism in literature) I was also taking note of all the issues that crop up for Sarah throughout the book.

I haven't finished yet, but I had some quiet time this afternoon & thought I would get a few ideas together for a review.

Imagine my surprise when I googled the book image and up popped a photo of the real Sarah Grinké!

No wonder the characters feel so real!

Sarah was born Nov 26 1792 in South Carolina. She was the 8th of 14 children.

Angelina was born Feb 20 1805 - the youngest of the tribe. Together these 2 amazing women were known as The Grinké Sisters - early abolitionists & feminists.

Both women became heavily involved with the Quaker movement after the death of their father in 1819. Sarah tried to become a minister until she realised that the church was something she agreed with in theory only.

Sarah & Angelina were the first female public speakers in the US. They started off with parlour room meetings for women only. These meetings grew in size. Men starting creeping in to listen. Mixed meetings were organised and by 1837 both sisters were involved in the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women in New York.

Their early talks focused on abolitionist themes, but gradually their talks included more & more on the rights of women. They both felt that women's rights were just as important as the fight to end slavery. But many abolitionists opposed these discussions about women's rights as being 'too extreme'!

As a result, they both endured increasing levels of personal abuse & criticism. Their meetings and debates were considered 'unseemly' and 'unwomanly'. They were accused of being spinsters parading themselves in front of men, looking for husbands.

In 1836 Sarah published An Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States. The following year she wrote Letters on the Equality of the Sexes and the Condition of Women.

Angelina wrote An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South in 1836. In 1838 she also published a series of letters in response to Catharine Beecher's An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism with Reference to the Duty of American Females.

I'm about halfway through The Invention of Wings.
The first half has been a fascinating coming of age story for both Sarah and her personal slave, Handful.

But Sarah has just accompanied her dying father to Philadelphia & we're about to embark on the above journey as told through Sue Monk Kidd's eyes.

I can't wait.

The Invention Of Wings fulfills my Published in 2014 category for the Eclectic Readers Challenge.


  1. Anonymous17/3/14

    I'd wondered about this book, and now you have me intrigued - thank you!

  2. I'm hoping to read this.
    Thanks for sharing your Eclectic Reader Challenge review

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out


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