On Sarah’s eleventh birthday in 1803, she is given ownership of a handmaid – ten year old Handful. This starts in motion an excellent novel The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Over thirty five years, ”both strive for lives of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement, and the uneasy ways of love.” (cover blurb).
Sarah is never easy with the concept of slavery and her journey beyond Charleston to Philadelphia marks her as an early pioneer in abolition and women’s rights. She dons the Quaker gray cloth and vows to fight alongside her sister for their beliefs. Handful, a talented seamstress, embraces her mother Charlotte’s story quilt and is emboldened by the blackbird wings – sure she will achieve freedom someday.
The author has done a lot of research about the early 1800s and the slavery issues, along with women’s rights issues. Her characters are strong women “whose struggles for liberties, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.” (cover blurb). Indeed, I enjoyed the intertwined tales and strong voices. I worried for Handful when she was sent to the Work House. I felt for Sarah as she yearned for love but had to say no to a man she loved. She would not compromise her principles.
Sue Monk Kidd is a superb writer with a smooth delivery. P. 3 “We weren’t some special people who lost our magic. We were slave people, and we weren’t going anywhere. It was later I saw what she meant. We could fly all right, but it wasn’t any magic to it.”