What a refreshing read! At first, I was thinking that dual first-person narration might be a detriment, but it’s absolutely critical to the story. Sarah and Handful come together in a way fairly typical of early 1800s Charleston, but of course Sarah’s acceptance of her own slave was always reluctant. And while the protagonists’ friendship form the basis of the story, the characters which surround them are also fully drawn out. This can be seen in their mothers, which serve as classic foils to each other. Sarah’s mother has always been expected to receive care, while Handful’s mother always strives to make her own way despite the constraints of slavery.
Sue Monk Kidd tells this tale over a period of 35 years. And while Angelina and Sarah Grimké were actual people, Kidd takes some artistic liberties with certain events to make them more dramatically appealing. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating look into the earliest figures of the abolition and gender equality movements.
If you are a fan of The Secret Life of Bees, you owe it to yourself to give this title a read. There are similar themes between the two, although the situations are obviously different enough that one is not a rehash of the other. Kidd knows very well how to tell stories of women finding their place in the world, and she succeeds beautifully in The Invention of Wings.