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.
'Ah, but let her cover the mark as she will, the pang of it will be always in her heart.'
A tale of sin, punishment and atonement, The Scarlet Letter exposes the moral rigidity of a 17th-Century Puritan New England community when faced with the illegitimate child of a young mother. Regarded as the first real heroine of American fiction, it is Hester Prynne's strength of character that resonates with the reader when her harsh sentence is cast. It is in her refusal to reveal the identity of the father in the face of her accusers that Hawthorne champions his heroine and berates the weakness of Society for attacking the innocent.
Invisible Gardens is the story of Lily Soto, a thirty-five-year-old Japanese-American woman, who, despite two young children, a stable marriage, and a teaching career based on a book she has finally completed, feels her life is falling apart. An extended stay by her aging father brings back painful memories of her dead mother—and amplifies how a family legacy has infiltrated Lily's perfectly constructed, but painfully flawed, life. As Lily struggles to meet the daily needs of her children, her husband, her father, and her career, and in an attempt to avert her attention from what is troubling her, she begins an affair with a male colleague. It's this illicit relationship that challenges Lily either to abandon her most intimate relationships or to approach her life with renewed insight.
In lyrical and precise prose, the novel examines the forces that women in their thirties face—forces that for Lily may mean not only the end of her own happiness but, more important, the dissolution of her marriage and her family.
K, a middle-aged painter, has returned from a hermit-like existence in Chile to attend the wedding of a girl he once loved to the point of obsession. He arrives at the English country church to find it empty and silent. The wedding has been postponed. He drives back to his hotel - a place he'd visited many years before - opens a bottle of champagne and with it, a door to the past.
When K first saw Claudia fifteen years before, he fell instantly and dangerously in love. He managed to forget he had a wife and a life already full. It was a coup de foudre; he became consumed by her. But Claudia was little more than a child then, twenty-four years his junior, beautiful but unformed. Perhaps it was no surprise that their love proved to be so destructive and ultimately tragic. Now, years later, he returns to find this new bride, his old love, is on the verge of a very different future. But the past, inevitably, awaits them both - and he is determined to take her back there¿