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The Invention of Wings: A Novel

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By:

Narrated By: Jenna Lamia, Adepero Oduye

Publisher: Penguin Audio

Date: January 2014

Duration: 13 hours 45 minutes


From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world—and it is now the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.


  • Kristi Sprague

    In the beginning of the book, I wasn't connecting with the characters. But, with time, I was glued to the story and listening whenever I could. This was a wonderful work of historical fiction based on the real lives of two sisters. The narrator was easy to listen to and brought the story to life. This has been my first Audiobook experience. I'll try another, for sure!

  • Melissa Herbert

    Enjoyed the entire book. The author did a nice job in combining Sara's story and the real account of her life's work with the injection of historical detail.

  • jaime olsen

    Fantastic reading of a fantastic book. I feel like it changed my life just a little.

  • tom Rebelo

    slow moving but engrossing narrative about coming to grips with enslavement set in a Virginian plantation. good narrator ...I thought there was two of them ))

  • aubrey fisher

    I really liked this storey. I felt like I learned something from it. I recommend this to anyone!

  • Nelly Navarro-Britt

    Great historical fiction book! Reminded me of The Help but in colonial times. True story of first female abolishonist speaker & writer. Author\'s note at the end tells you what she added to the story.

  • Tracey L'Heureux

    Love this book. I like how each characters talk about their life,

  • Elizabeth Painter

    Great rendering of life in the south when our country was very young. Sue Monk Kidd has done it again. I had to take it outside and listen while working in the yard because I did not want to stop reading.

  • Laura Brewer

    The only unfortunate part of this story was that it ended. Then come to find out that most of the characters were real people. Wow Each chapter reads with a different voice drawing you deeper within the journey of two girls who grow up together yet separated by slavery. I will read this book now that I have listened to it. Wonderful

  • Jerome Farrar

    What a wonderful read of what the South must have been during its tumultuous period of time before it lit like a fire on a hot summer day. The people from all walks of life during this time and the roles they played, lives they lived, and the changes to our country. A great read and i really, really enjoyed the narration of this book as well.