Posts Tagged ‘Sue Monk Kidd’

The Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd

Posted in American Fiction, Historical Fiction on January 9th, 2014 by admin – 4 Comments
  • 18581771
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tinder Press (7 Jan 2014)
  • Source – Netgalley
  • My Rating – 4 stars

 

Set in early 19th century Charleston, Sue Monk Kidd’s latest novel is the story of two women from very different backgrounds. On her eleventh birthday Sarah Grimke, daughter of a wealthy judge, is gifted ownership of ten year old Hetty “Handful” Grimke, a slave who will act as her handmaid. Both young girls have many dreams and aspirations but these are thwarted by social convention in Sarah’s case and the brutal reality of enslavement for Handful. Indeed, Handful points out that her slavery is that of the body whilst Sarah is held captive by her own mind.
Narrated in turn by Sarah and Handful, the story paints a realistic picture of the deep South where anyone speaking out against slavery is ostracised. Sarah has had a privileged background but she’s an intelligent woman who wants more than needlepoint and a socially acceptable match. As a teenager she sees how her brothers’ horizons expand whilst her prospects become limited. Meanwhile Handful is raised by a strong mother, Charlotte, who advocates quiet rebellion and unlocks the possibility of freedom for her daughter.
Spanning 35 years, this novel is loosely based on the life of Sarah Grimke and her sister Angelina who were the first female abolitionists and feminist thinkers in the United States. The parallel stories of Sarah and Handful provide an intriguing insight into the racism, misogynism and inequality which pervaded the Southern States during this era. The voices of Sarah and Handful are very convincing as is the depiction of the claustrophobic life of the landed gentry and the daily brutality of life for slaves.
This is a very readable, thought-provoking story which packs a slightly stronger punch than the author’s first novel The Secret Life of Bees.

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The Homecoming of Samuel Lake – Jenny Wingfield

Posted in American Fiction on June 26th, 2011 by admin – 2 Comments

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is the debut novel of Jenny Wingfield, an accomplished screenwriter, and it is evident from the very first pages that she is a very talented writer and storyteller.

Set in the 1950s in Arkansas in the deep South of the US, our story begins with the sudden death of John Moses and ends with another death with a good sprinkling of violent episodes in between.  Samuel Lake is a preacher without a congregation, his unique style not making him a favourite amongst traditional pastors, so he and his family return to the homestead of his wife, Willadee (nee Moses) hoping to start afresh.   What ensues is an intriguing tale of a family in a state of flux and it isn’t until the final page that the reader discovers if Samuel’s unswerving faith in God is indeed well placed.

I really enjoyed this family saga with its fast paced narrative and its varied canvas of characters.  Most of the characters have rather bizarre names including Swan Lake, Samuel’s feisty 12 year old daughter, his sons, Noble and Bienville, brother-in-law Toy (6 foot 4!), sister-in-law Nicey and neighbour’s children, Blade and Blue.   Amidst the tragedy of every day life there is bitter sweet comedy – the Moses house has a grocery store at the front porch, open from dawn to dusk and a bar at the back open from dusk to dawn.  You get a real feel for this quirky, rural setting where folk might not exactly break the law but they can certainly bend it!  If you enjoy novels from Fannie Flagg or Sue Monk Kidd you’ll feel right at home with Samuel Lake.

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