Books: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I first became aware of this book during my writing retreat and workshop in France; the agent running the workshop used samples from the book, and those samples were so beautifully written I felt the need to read the whole thing.

The book in its entirety does live up to that first promise. Dual tales are spun: Sarah Grimké, daughter of a wealthy Charleston jurist and plantation owner, and a slave in the Grimké household named Hetty (basket name: Handful). Sarah Grimké was a real person, and Kidd did loads of research then embroidered the story with her lovely prose.

As beautiful as the book is, as well-written as it is, I will admit feeling fatigued toward the end. I sort of wanted it to wrap up already. It's like a movie that goes on just a few minutes too long, you know? Some of that embroidery, some of the lingering on thoughts and moments, was perhaps not all that necessary.

But on the whole I enjoyed it, even if I did skim the last 30 pages. ("Yes, yes, okay, but what happens? Let's just get to that bit.") The bad luck that these two women suffer, both together and singly, at times feels like too much to bear. Still, it's all wrapped in a gorgeous package of beautiful writing, smooth as a hull cutting through calm waters. I admire the craft put into this book, and the research and effort. If a story is a box, this one is artfully carved and gilded. Maybe it didn't need quite so much gold leaf, but it's lovely.

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