I’ve just finished reading another of Sue Monk Kidd’s sublimely written novels; ‘The Invention of Wings.’
It wasn’t what I was expecting, for the simple fact that while I thought I was reading fiction, the story is based on fact.
A simple line she found in a historical document has helped the writer to build a world that is wholly believable and eloquently realistic. Yet the story is also shot through with unsettling revelations on the treatment of slaves in the pre-civil war period of the southern states of America.
A grand, wealthy, respected family in South Carolina gives their 11 year old daughter, Sara, a slave as her personal maid, named Handful.
Completely shocked and unable to comprehend that she owns another human being, Sara immediately tries to grant the child her freedom and thus is set the stage for the friendship, character development and attitude of both girls, on into adulthood.
What is freedom anyway? And who controls it? Told with unapologetic realism, the story is both fluidly written and heart breaking at the same time as it is shot through with shockingly confronting abuses of black people by their white self-righteous ‘owners’.
What amazed me even more was when I listened to a nagging voice in my head that said ‘google Sara Grimke’.
I did and behold – she is a real, historical figure. Sara is a famous early feminist who has was also a well known abolitionist. There are even photos of her available. Sara and her younger sister Angelina, traveled the country, giving public discourses against slavery. Sara even wrote in support of Abraham Lincoln.
A fascinating woman and ahead of her time. I love stories, fictitious or factual, based on strong, intelligent, independent women who stand up for what’s right and fight for it and so I’m grateful to have met Sara Grimke through the melodically fluent pages of Sue Monk Kidd’s novel.