Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Genre: Historical Fiction, Standalone
Personal Rating: 3.75/5 (good +)
Jenna Lamia & Adepero Oduye
Yearly Count: 50
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.
I felt the story was interesting, but also a little boring. The shift in narrators from Handful to Sarah was good, but the stuttering of Sarah annoyed me. It's just like singing in an audiobook -- not necessary!
At the end of the book, the author shares what was truth, manipulated truth and what she simply made up. I found that information fascinating and wish I had known how much truth was really in the book BEFORE I listened to it. It would have made for an even better experience for me.
I did have an enjoyable connection with this story. I was making a quilt top while listening to it, and there was much talk about fabrics, quilts and sewing. Often I remember what I was doing when listening to a book, but this one had such a tie-in that I doubt I'll ever forget it. :)
Thoughts of Joy
My thanks go to Penguin Group and NetGalley for providing me with this eGalley.