The Invention of Wings sparked a multi-generational adventure to Charleston, South Carolina.
After reading The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about the sisters Grimke. Although the book was historical fiction, Sarah and Angelina Grimke are more than just characters in a book, they were true abolitionists and suffragettes, and not surprising were daughters of true American patriots. Their father was once jailed in Charleston by the British and the girls eventually had to leave Charleston in fear for their lives, never to return for the sake of their family. After finishing my research I felt the need to visit Charleston and see some of the places that were so vividly described in the book. Having also read the books, I invited two of my Aunts and one of my Daughters to go along with me on this pilgrimage. Before our trip I contacted Carol Ezell-Gilson, part of the Charleston Preservation Society, who, along with a partner, leads the Original Grimke Sisters Tours. We were not disappointed. Carol led us through Charleston, bringing us to the home that Sarah lived as a young girl, the home they moved to before Angelina was born, by the (most likely) home of Denmark Vecey, a free black carpenter and minister who led the opposition of Slavery in Charleston in 1822 and many other relevant landmarks. She helped us discern the differences of fact and fiction in the book and helped us understand the city during the early 1800’s in such a special way.
The book, written in two voices, the first being Sarah Grimke and the second being Hattie (Handful), her slave, gives life and breath to what it might feel like to live in the South during a turbulent time when people were so divided about right and wrong. Having three generations of women following a path forged by the strength of two sisters was a powerful experience, building a bond I will cherish forever.