The Invention of Wings
Sue Monk Kidd
As a fan of Sue Monk Kidd's books, The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair, I anxiously awaited the publication of her newest book, The Invention of Wings. Ms. Kidd is a skilled storyteller, as evidenced in her historic treatment and compelling fictionalization of the daily lives of Charleston abolitionist sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimke. Related to the Draytons (of Magnolia and Drayton Hall Plantations) the Grimke girls were raised on East Bay Street in Charleston, SC. Their anti-slavery views made them pariahs in their own city and heroes to northern abolitionists. A contemporary of Elizibeth Cady Stanton, William Lloyd Garrison and John Greenleaf Whittier, Sarah Grimke discovered and embraced the northern abolitionist movement soon after she moved to Pennsylvania in the 1820's. Sarah's younger sister, Angelina, who shared her anti-slavery views, traveled north to join Sarah in the 1830's. Angelina became a spirited writer and speaker for the abolitionist cause.
Ms. Kidd's description of the lives of Charleston house slaves in the early 1800's adds depth and a sense of purpose to the Grimke narrative. The Invention of Wings is a great read. It illuminates the story of the Grimke sisters for history lovers and especially for those Charlestonians who have had to be satisfied with mere snippets of information about these brave sisters.