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Lifestyle

February 2, 2014

'The Invention of Wing' soars

“The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd

c. 2013, Viking; $27.95; 373 pages

Your best friend has been all a-flutter about something lately.

You haven’t seen much of her, in fact. She’s been sticking close to her nest but that’s okay. Next time you get together, it’ll be just like you were never apart.

That’s the way a long-time friendship is: no matter how much you don’t see one another, you know your friend is somewhere and, as in the new novel “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd, she’ll come flying when you need her.

Eleven-year-old Sarah Grimké did not want to own a human.

Already at that age, she understood that it was wrong to have slaves but Mother insisted. The Grimkés were one of Charleston’s finest families. It would be unseemly for a proper young lady to be without her own handmaid. So for Sarah’s birthday, Mother gave her Hetty, also known as Handful.

For most of her nine years, Handful figured she’d be a seamstress like her mauma, but it wasn’t to be. After she was given to Miss Sarah, she was told that she was to sleep outside Miss Sarah’s bedroom, like a personal servant would do. But most nights, Handful crept away to Mauma, where she listened to stories of her granny-mauma and laid beneath quilts that gave her dreams of flight.

Though Sarah tried to give Handful her freedom, it wasn’t allowed by law so she did the next best thing: she taught Handful to read, which was also illegal. They would both be punished for it: Handful, by lash and Sarah, by banishment from her father’s library. It was the final straw for Sarah, who suddenly understood that she would never become a lawyer like her brothers.

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