Oprah Winfrey announced in early December that her third pick for her Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 would be The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd. The author has a huge fan base from her first book The Secret Life of Bees, which spent 175 weeks on the New York Times trade paperback best-seller list selling more than 6 million copies in the US. Her second book, The Mermaid Chair, and the memoir Traveling With Pomegranates were also big hits
The new book traces 35 years in the lives of two early 19thC women, readers first meet them as young girls. Sarah Grimké is based on real-life Sarah Moore Grimké, a South Carolina abolitionist, suffragist and writer who leads a privileged, wealthy life but is rebellious and kind. On her 11th birthday, her biggest wish is to become the country’s first woman lawyerand as a gift, she’s given ownership of her own maid, Hetty “Handful” Grimké, 10. Handful is a slave along with her mother at the family’s Charleston home. Sarah refuses ‘the gift’ then writes a note attempting to give Handful her freedom. She’s overridden by her parents and so begins a long relationship between the two women both fighting for their own types of freedom.The story is told in the alternating first-person voices of Sarah and Handful, which the author makes distinctive.