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They were, arguably, the most radical females to ever come out of the antebellum South. I still recall the list of occupations for women I copied off the blackboard: teacher, nurse, secretary, sales clerk, homemaker… I remember this moment quite well because I harbored a deep and formidable desire to be a writer, and it was nowhere on the roster.
Their names were listed on the Heritage Panels, which honor 999 women who’ve made important contributions to western history.
Later, I was astonished to discover they were from Charleston, South Carolina, the same city in which I was then living.
As their intertwined stories unfold in their own voices, Sarah will eventually break from the only life she knows and go north to become an exile, encountering love and heartbreak, repression and renaissance as she searches for her voice and her place of belonging.
Back home, Handful will experience her mother’s mysterious disappearance, finding strength and answers in the story quilt she leaves behind.
Named Book Sense Book of the Year in 2004, it was adapted into an award-winning movie.
Kidd’s second novel, The Mermaid Chair (2005), sold over a million copies and garnered the Quill Award for General Fiction.
Introduction to The Invention of Wings The Invention of Wings, a powerful and sweeping historical novel by Sue Monk Kidd, begins, fittingly, with an image of flight: Hetty “Handful”, who has grown up as a slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, recalls the night her mother told her that her ancestors in Africa could fly over trees and clouds.
That day, Handful’s mother, Charlotte, gave her daughter the gift of hope— the possibility that someday she might regain her wings and fly to freedom.
Ambitious and keenly intelligent, she harbors an intense longing to have a voice in the world and to follow her father and brothers’ footsteps to a profession in the law.