The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

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1800s – Charleston

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.

Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love

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1868 – South Carolina

The war is over, but at Fairhaven Plantation, Charlotte’s struggle has just begun.

Following her father’s death, Charlotte Fraser returns to Fairhaven, her family’s rice plantation in the South Carolina Lowcountry. With no one else to rely upon, smart, independent Charlotte is determined to resume cultivating the superior strain of rice called Carolina Gold.  But the war has left the plantation in ruins, her father’s former bondsmen are free, and workers and equipment are in short supply. To make ends meet, Charlotte reluctantly agrees to tutor the two young daughters of her widowed neighbor and heir to Willowood Plantation, Nicholas Betancourt.  Just as her friendship with Nick deepens, he embarks upon a quest to prove his claim to Willowood and sends Charlotte on a dangerous journey that uncovers a long-held family secret, and threatens everything she holds dear. Inspired by the life of a 19th-century woman rice farmer, Carolina Gold pays tribute to the hauntingly beautiful Lowcountry and weaves together  mystery, romance, and historical detail, bringing to life the story of one young woman’s struggle to restore her ruined world.