Belinda’s Book Nook Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd


Title: The Invention of Wings
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Copyright: January 7, 2014
Genre: historical fiction
Format: paperback

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

From the celebrated author of the international bestseller The Secret Life of Bees comes an extraordinary novel about two exceptional women.

Sarah Grimké is the middle daughter. The one her mother calls difficult and her father calls remarkable. On Sarah’s eleventh birthday, Hetty ‘Handful’ Grimké is taken from the slave quarters she shares with her mother, wrapped in lavender ribbons, and presented to Sarah as a gift. Sarah knows what she does next will unleash a world of trouble. She also knows that she cannot accept. And so, indeed, the trouble begins …

A powerful, sweeping novel, inspired by real events, and set in the American Deep South in the nineteenth century, THE INVENTION OF WINGS evokes a world of shocking contrasts, of beauty and ugliness, of righteous people living daily with cruelty they fail to recognise; and celebrates the power of friendship and sisterhood against all the odds.

My thoughts:

I have had this book on my TBR for quite some time and jumped at the chance to recommend it for the book club I am in because I felt like I would keep putting it off for something else. So I was very happy when it was chosen as our April read. I went into it not sure what to expect. I had searched far and wide to find this UK edition because I loved the cover. I don’t know why some publishers make such ugly covers for the American version and stunning one’s abroad.

The Characters: I thought the author did an amazing job of character development. The main characters were Sarah, the wealthy white girl who’s family owned slaves in the deep south (Charleston to be exact) and Hetty the daughter of a slave that Sarah’s family owned. I really felt myself drawn to the two of them very quickly and the book was written so well that you were plagued with emotions throughout the book. There was enough depth to allow me to understand and empathize with both characters. They later introduced us to Angelina, Sarah’s younger sister and she developed into quite a good character as well. The supporting characters, Sarah’s family members were rich as well even if not always taking center stage.  I could almost visualize a movie made of this book. Not sure who I would cast for the characters but definitely see that it would make for a great movie.

I usually have a hard time with slavery stories and this one had it’s moments that I had to take a long pause to gather myself but then I would be drawn back to the story to find out what would happen next. The book explored the complexity of slavery in the south as well as the plight of women and women’s rights during this time. It included information about the Quakers and the abolitionists during this time.

I was also fascinated with the talk of Story Quilts in this book. I have heard of them and found it great how the author weaved them into the story. This book had so many topics that I find interesting and would love to read further on. The author even included a great list of references to further explore many of the topics in the book. What a treat!

I love historical fictions because they can bring you there just as well as a non-fiction if written well and this one was written well. I never heard of Sarah and Angelina Grimke.  They were real people that rejected their wealthy lifestyles and moved to the north to fight for the end of slavery and for women’s equality. They eventually retired in Hyde Park, Massachusetts.

What is a shame is that history books have neglected to include them and their contributions. Please take time to explore more about these women. I have included a link here to read a bit more about these women here.

Favorite quote:

“I have one mind for the master to see. I have another for what I know is me.” (Mr. Vessey p. 172)


“History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.” (Julius Lester) (p. 370)

My rating:

I went in not knowing but hoping for a great book and I found it. I gave this five butterflies and highly recommend it.

Happy reading!!!




  1. I’m really enjoying this book and I like it even more knowing the women really existed. So far, there are parts that make me chuckle and flinch. I can’t put it down! I hope it is made into a movie!

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