Sue Monk Kidd’s touching novel The Invention of Wings, which debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, is about self-discovery and a striving for freedom that overcomes heartbreak, rejection, and societal restrictions. It is based on the true story of nineteenth-century abolitionists and women’s rights activists Sarah and Angelina Grimké.
The Bookclub-in-a-Box discussion guide (51 pages) includes complete coverage of the characters, themes, symbols, historical background, and writing style, plus discussion questions to get your book club or classroom buzzing.
About the novel: Ten-year-old Hetty “Handful” Grimké is an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston. She is given to the Grimké’s daughter, Sarah, on Sarah’s eleventh birthday. Sarah, however, has a mind of her own and does not want to “own” another human being. She believes she is meant to do something big and important in life. When she tries to free Hetty, her parents intervene and the two girls become bonded in a relationship that will span thirty-five years. Sarah defies her parents and her society by becoming an abolitionist. In this, she is joined by her younger sister Angelina. Together they become pioneers in the abolitionist and human rights movements.
The story is based in part on the historic figure of Sarah Grimké. Kidd uses the character of Hetty and Hetty’s servitude in juxtaposition to Sarah’s liberal leanings. Hetty’s mother, Charlotte, is a fearless and cunning woman who records her family’s history on a quilt that she keeps hidden from her masters while her lover, Denmark Versey, a free black man, plans a slave uprising that ends in disaster.