The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
3.5 stars. Good, but not fantastic, historical fiction. Certainly, the topic of slavery is dramatic and powerful ... And Sue Monk Kidd weaves an interesting tale with the dual narratives of Sarah Grimke, a real historical figure, and Handful, an invented character. In some ways, however, the story lacked the emotional punch I expected it to have, given the topic. The novel, at least for me, was compelling at some points and less so at others. I felt the ending was somewhat abrupt and didn't provide readers with the full emotional release that seemed warranted. The plot builds up to a crescendo... And then we aren't quite sure what happens. Perhaps it shouldn't matter... the main characters have all invented their wings and "flown," metaphorically... But I admit that I wouldn't have minded an epilogue giving me a few more details. Nevertheless, this a highly readable and well-researched novel, and I do think this is Kidd's strongest, best written work of fiction to date.
I will say, as an historian, I'm happy if the novel sheds some light on this time period and the issues of slavery and abolition, which are all too often skimmed over in primary and secondary curricula in our country. If many readers have never read detailed accounts of the horrors of slavery or know very little about the abolition movement (and women's rights movement)--as some reviews on Goodreads seem to indicate--that doesn't speak well of how our education system has treated these significant topics in American history.