For avid readers as well as academics, Sue Monk Kidd: A Collection of Critical Essays offers seven analytic studies of several of Kidd’s novels, including The Invention of Wings, The Secret Life of Bees, and The Book of Longings, plus the film version of The Secret Life of Bees, to bring expanded perspectives to her work. These literary essays can serve as examples for students of literature, find a place in college English classrooms as well as libraries for both secondary and higher education, and appeal to scholars of American literature. A discourse is launched here regarding Kidd’s place in postcolonialism, identity, feminism, voice, perception, spirituality, and humor. Much like other notable Southern authors before her, namely William Faulkner, Kate Chopin, Tennessee Williams, Alice Walker, Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor, Zora Neale Hurston, and Harper Lee, Kidd’s vision is more tragedy than morality play or melodrama, closer to Realism but not without Romanticism. These essays reveal how oppression, abuse, abandonment, injustice, and other tragedies find their way into Kidd’s novels. The characters’ plights are met not with easy or tension-free resolutions, but love, humor, insight, transcendence, and grit are rendered as they struggle with inhumane difficulties. Sue Monk Kidd’s worldview is at once inclusive and expansive, transitional and transformative, heartbreaking and healing, and this collection imparts that, inviting more scholarly discourse and investigation of her exceptional works.
DEBORAH J. KUHLMANN is a professor of English in the School of Languages and Literature at Wayland Baptist University, where she teaches online courses in writing and literature.