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The Invention of Wings Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 7, 2014
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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In the early 1830s, Sarah Grimké and her younger sister, Angelina, were the most infamous women in America. They had rebelled so vocally against their family, society, and their religion that they were reviled, pursued, and exiled from their home city of Charleston, South Carolina, under threat of death. Their crime was speaking out in favor of liberty and equality and for African American slaves and women, arguments too radically humanist even for the abolitionists of their time. Their lectures drew crowds of thousands, even (shockingly, then) men, and their most popular pamphlet directly inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom's Cabin--published 15 years later. These women took many of the first brutal backlashes against feminists and abolitionists, but even their names are barely known now. Sue Monk Kidd became fascinated by these sisters, and the question of what compelled them to risk certain fury and say with the full force of their convictions what others had not (or could not). She discovered that in 1803, when Sarah turned 11, her parents gave her the “human present” of 10-year-old Hetty to be her handmaid, and Sarah taught Hetty to read, an act of rebellion met with punishment so severe that the slave girl died of "an unspecified disease" shortly after her beating. Kidd knew then that she had to try to bring Hetty back to life (“I would imagine what might have been," she tells us), and she starts these girls' stories here, both cast in roles they despise. She trades chapters between their voices across decades, imagining the Grimké sisters’ courageous metamorphosis and, perhaps more vitally, she gives Hetty her own life of struggle and transformation. Few characters have ever been so alive to me as Hetty and Sarah. Long after you finish this book, you'll feel its courageous heart beating inside your own. -- Mari Malcolm
*Starred Review* Inspired by the true story of early-nineteenth-century abolitionist and suffragist Sarah Grimké, Kidd paints a moving portrait of two women inextricably linked by the horrors of slavery. Sarah, daughter of a wealthy South Carolina plantation owner, exhibits an independent spirit and strong belief in the equality of all. Thwarted from her dreams of becoming a lawyer, she struggles throughout life to find an outlet for her convictions. Handful, a slave in the Grimké household, displays a sharp intellect and brave, rebellious disposition. She maintains a compliant exterior, while planning for a brighter future. Told in first person, the chapters alternate between the two main characters’ perspectives, as we follow their unlikely friendship (characterized by both respect and resentment) from childhood to middle age. While their pain and struggle cannot be equated, both women strive to be set free—Sarah from the bonds of patriarchy and Southern bigotry, and Handful from the inhuman bonds of slavery. Kidd is a master storyteller, and, with smooth and graceful prose, she immerses the reader in the lives of these fascinating women as they navigate religion, family drama, slave revolts, and the abolitionist movement. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Beginning with her phenomenally successful debut, The Secret Life of Bees (2002), Kidd’s novels have found an intense readership among library patrons, who will be eager to get their hands on her latest one. --Kerri Price
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Amaon I'm ashamed at you, you should know better and the ones your going to hurt by doing this is the author because people will be returning ithe book once they figure out what they have or just won't buy it once the word gets out.
I feel bad for the author it really is a good book.
I read this book on Kindle. I have, what I refer to as, a "flawed inner narrator". Therefore I often spend extra money and purchase the accompanying audiobook. I did so in this case and was very glad I did. The audiobook is really excellent. The novel is constructed around the first person narration of two females protagonists. One is a free white lady named Sarah Grimke who is an actual historical figure. The second lady, as described below, is also a real, actual person, however, lamentably, there is little real historical information about her.
The second lady is an enslaved African American lady named "Handful". According to the author there was such a lady, but very little is known about her. There are descriptions of "punishments" (torture) of various African Americans that can only be described as ghastly. While the exact story depicted here is fiction, the acts are drawn from actual histories of slavery. In that context the novel is similar to "Uncle Tom's Cabin".
In any event, the Audiobook has two narrators. They switch back and forth as the novel switches scenes between the two protagonists. Both narrators are really excellent. In the novel Miss Grimke has a speech impediment and her narrator represents that in such a way that really moved me, but would have mostly been lost to my own flawed inner narrator.
In the event that a reader enjoys the format of this book, with two female protagonist narrators, I happened to read another book like that, "Girls Like Us" by Gail Giles, that I enjoyed very much. It is a far different story, but the format is the same. That audiobook was also excellent.
I am somewhat embarrassed to confess that I was unfamiliar with Sarah Monk Kidd. The reason I read this book was because it was a book club selection. I am now going to research the author and select another work of hers to read. Thank You...