From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees and the forthcoming novel The Book of Longings, a 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.
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.
- ISBN-13: 9780143121701
- ISBN-10: 0143121707
- Publisher: Penguin Books
- Publish Date: May 2015
- Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.6 pounds
- Page Count: 400
Book Clubs: Finding his true colors
Deeply inquisitive and beautifully rendered, Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, features a troubled protagonist who is trying to make sense of a painful past. A successful engineer, Tsukuru lives in contemporary Tokyo, where he builds railroad stations and has a new girlfriend named Sara. Pretty, smart and perceptive, Sara knows that something is holding Tsukuru back from living a life of complete fulfillment. And she’s right: Tsukuru was wounded years ago when four close teenage friends turned their backs on him without explanation. In the wake of their abandonment, Tsukuru felt suicidal, certain that he was somehow to blame. When Sara persuades him to seek out his old friends and learn the reasons behind their desertion, he finds himself on the quest of a lifetime. Out of Tsukuru’s attempt to solve the mystery that lies at the center of his life, Murakami spins a compelling and emotionally authentic narrative. It’s another masterwork from a writer who’s in a class by himself.
PARIS AFTER DARK
In her stunning novel Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932, Francine Prose offers up an intricate narrative filled with characters who dwell on the city’s margins. Lou Villars is a crossdressing lesbian and an athlete of exceptional ability. Her lover, the unscrupulous Arlette, is a performer. Together, they frequent a bar that flouts convention by welcoming gays and other unorthodox types. Recording the scene is Hungarian photographer Gabor Tsenyi, whose iconic photos of Paris nightlife come to symbolize the era. Prose tells their story over the course of her mesmerizing, multifaceted novel. Using a variety of narrative vehicles—including writings by expat American novelist Lionel Maine (a character based on Henry Miller)—Prose creates a captivating account of Lou’s life and the dark work she eventually does for the Nazis. Inspired by a Brassaï photo from the 1930s, Prose’s seductive tale of a permissive Paris between the wars is also a provocative exploration of identity and the search for acceptance.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd is based on the life of Sarah Grimké, an outspoken abolitionist who lived in Charleston, South Carolina, in the early 1800s. Headstrong Sarah is the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. A woman of principle who believes in justice and equality, she seeks a platform for her energies. Since childhood, she has been friends with Handful, a slave owned by the Grimké family who is her personal maid. Smart and courageous, Handful puts up an obedient, dutiful front but has hopes of making a new life for herself. The two women remain friends over the years, and both work in different ways to find their own versions of liberty. Kidd’s characters are larger than life, but she tells their story in a way that’s intimate and personal, presenting a nuanced depiction of their friendship. A pick for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, Kidd’s latest novel will get book clubs talking.