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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"The Invention of Wings" by Sue Monk Kidd

  1. How does the novel explore the complexities of power dynamics, particularly between slave owners and their slaves?
  2. In what ways do the characters of Sarah Grimké and Handful mirror each other despite their differing social statuses?
  3. How does the novel depict the role of women in the 19th-century American South, both within and outside the institution of slavery?
  4. Discuss the significance of the bird motif throughout the novel, especially in relation to themes of freedom and captivity.
  5. How does Sarah's journey towards abolitionism and women's rights parallel Handful's journey towards freedom and self-discovery?
  6. Analyze the relationship between Sarah and her sister Angelina. How do their differing perspectives and experiences shape their activism?
  7. Discuss the significance of the "invention of wings" metaphor in the context of the novel's themes. What does it represent for each of the main characters?
  8. Explore the theme of resistance in the novel, both individual and collective, and how it manifests among different characters.
  9. How does the novel depict the complexities of friendship across racial and societal divides, particularly in a time of extreme social upheaval?
  10. Reflect on the role of storytelling and oral tradition in preserving history and identity, as depicted through the character of Charlotte.

Sue Monk Kidd is an American author known for her novels that often explore themes of feminism, spirituality, and the search for personal freedom. She was born on August 12, 1948, in Sylvester, Georgia, USA. Kidd grew up in the small town of Sylvester and attended Texas Christian University, where she earned a degree in nursing. After college, she worked as a registered nurse and later became a stay-at-home mother and writer.

Kidd's literary career began with the publication of her first book, "God's Joyful Surprise: Finding Yourself Loved" in 1988, a spiritual memoir that drew from her own experiences and reflections. However, she gained widespread acclaim with her debut novel, "The Secret Life of Bees," published in 2002. Set in South Carolina in the 1960s, the novel tells the story of a young girl named Lily Owens who escapes her abusive father and finds refuge with a trio of beekeeping sisters, exploring themes of race, family, and female empowerment. "The Secret Life of Bees" became a bestseller and was adapted into a successful film in 2008.

Following the success of her debut novel, Kidd continued to write fiction that resonated with readers. In 2005, she published "The Mermaid Chair," a novel about a woman who returns to her childhood home in South Carolina and becomes involved in a local mystery while exploring her own identity and desires. This was followed by "The Invention of Wings" in 2014, which is based on the real-life historical figures Sarah and Angelina Grimké, and explores their activism against slavery and for women's rights.

In addition to her novels, Kidd has also written non-fiction works and essays, often focusing on themes related to spirituality, feminism, and personal growth. She has been praised for her lyrical prose, rich character development, and exploration of complex themes. Kidd's writing has earned her numerous awards and honors, and her books have been translated into multiple languages.

Sue Monk Kidd continues to write and engage with readers through her work, exploring themes of empowerment, resilience, and the human spirit in her fiction and non-fiction alike.


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Westwood, MA 02090
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