Monday, December 23, 2013

The Invention of Wings

I was really excited when I got approved for Sue Monk Kidd's new book, "The Invention of Wings," on Net Galley. I re-read her "Secret Life of Bees" last year for my book club and was once again impressed by the way she really draws you into the story through her rich descriptions.
"The Invention of Wings" tells a fictionalized account based on the life of Sarah Grimke, a famous abolitionist. The book starts out with Sarah receiving a slave girl named Handful as a birthday gift, and throughout the book their stories are interwoven. Sarah isn't always a particularly likeable character, but I think that's a good thing. She's not portrayed as a martyr, rather as someone who struggles within herself as she grapples with the right thing to do vs. what is easy and the way it has always been. When she receives Handful, she knows it isn't right, and she is determined to do something about it, but quickly learns that it isn't possible. Sarah has a lot going against her in her quest. First, she's a woman. She longs to become a lawyer and has the intelligence to do it, but her ambitions are shot down because she is a woman. Later, women's rights become another battle she must fight. Second, she struggles with public speaking.
Handful's story is heart-wrenching. Reading it really sends home the horrific conditions under which slaves lived and died.
I thought Monk Kidd did a wonderful job of blending fiction and reality. She picked these characters out of history and breathed life into them. I think it will be considered one of the best books of 2014.

In my last post, I said I was planning to check out "The Christmas Train" from the library. As it turned out, it was in transit to another library, as were all the other copies in the system! I suspect it must have been some book club's choice this month. I'll keep it on my list for next year. I started "Holidays on Ice" by David Sedaris but stopped reading after the second story. The first story wasn't particularly well-written and was mildly funny, but the second one really disgusted me, and I consider myself a pretty cynical person. Life's too short to read books you don't like, so this one went in the "couldn't finish" pile. I'm not sure I'll try Sedaris again any time soon.

I found myself craving something classic, and decided to pick up "The Three Musketeers." I read "The Count of Monte Cristo" about four years ago at this time, and have many fond memories of it. I know it isn't a book I'll get through quickly, but I am sure it will be worth the effort. I'm finding it highly entertaining so far. I'm also doing my annual reading of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." After that I'm going to sink my teeth into "Andrew's Brain," by E.L. Doctorow, which I received an advance copy of through Goodreads. Then I'm planning on participating in my library's winter reading program. I already have my book list made and I'm ready to tackle it!

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