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The Secret Life of Bees [Paperback]

Sue Monk Kidd
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (323 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

3 Mar 2003
Lily has grown up believing she accidentally killed her mother when she was four. She not only has her own memory of holding the gun, but her father's account of the event. Now fourteen, she yearns for her mother, and for forgiveness. Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her father, she has only one friend: Rosaleen, a black servant whose sharp exterior hides a tender heart. South Carolina in the sixties is a place where segregation is still considered a cause worth fighting for. When racial tension explodes one summer afternoon, and Rosaleen is arrested and beaten, Lily is compelled to act. Fugitives from justice and from Lily's harsh and unyielding father, they follow a trail left by the woman who died ten years before. Finding sanctuary in the home of three beekeeping sisters, Lily starts a journey as much about her understanding of the world, as about the mystery surrounding her mother.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review; New Ed edition (3 Mar 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747266832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747266839
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (323 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Kidd's first novel is well placed, gentle and deeply moving' The Times (The Times)

'A personal favourite, one of those infectiously written books you can't get out of your mind...a lovely tale' Bookseller (Bookseller)

'A tale that's beautifully and movingly written' Buzz (Buzz)

Book Description

Sue Monk Kidd's exquisite first novel has received huge acclaim.

'Wonderfully written, powerful, poignant, and humorous... Do read it' Joanna Trollope

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't keep this a secret 31 Jan 2009
By b.lops
A truly charming book, wonderfully written, moving and heart-warming with a spiritual core. The main character is Lily, a motherless teenager who has been brought up by her bitter, angry father. Lily's journey to find something or someone to answer the questions and fill the gap that her mother's death has left within her takes her to a mesmerizing, soulful place in the American south. The year is 1964 and the civil rights act has just been signed which adds more tension to the story and provides an inspired backdrop to Lily's journey. The desciptions are beautiful, I could smell the honey, hear the bees and feel the heat. The characters are full and August Boatwright in particular is one I wish I knew in real life. Lily's thoughts and her anguish are written so well I was reading through tears. This is a moving story but not maudlin or depressing one, it is uplifting, full of heart and inspiration. Just a little footnote, if you enjoyed reading this I recommend you read A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly too.
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153 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you never read another book, read this one! 8 April 2003
By Janette
Forget the title - this is a heart-wrenching, beautiful book and I urge you to read it, whatever your usual reading matter. The narrator of this novel, Lily, grows up unloved and believing that she accidentally killed her mother at the age of four. She starts her story "the summer I turned fourteen", and Sue Monk Kidd perfectly captures the awkward restlessness of the teenager, longing for love, yearning to discover the truth and fearful of what will emerge. The casual references to racial attitudes in South Carolina in 1964 are shocking, and the unique beekeeping sisters she finishes up with stay with you and haunt you long after you finish the book. Poignant and humorous by turns, the tale brought tears to my eyes on several occasions, something which has never happened before in my wide reading history. An added bonus are the wonderful facts you will learn about bees... I really can't recommend this book strongly enough!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get the buzz!! 3 Jun 2004
Great writing, moving story, and deep relevance for all of us because of Monk Kidd's persuasive linking between identity and trauma, not just on a personal level, but on a broader societal level. Nothing new about this, of course, but The Secret Life of Bees succeeds because of its charm and intimacy. I have read another excellent book recently about a person whose life was shaped by the life and dead of his mother, and by the trauma that underpins his chosen life. Called IN THE GHOST COUNTRY by Peter Hillary and John Elder, the book has been described in overseas news reviews as ``deserving a much wider audience because of its searing psychological insights'' and ''a superb dialogue on human frailty.'' Check it out.
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Holiday reading at its best 6 Mar 2010
This book tells the story of a white girl trying to grow up in the racially divided deep south in the 1960s, with a father who doesn't love her and no mother following her death when the main character was just four. The author has written the story well, weaving in a number of characters, most of whom you care about enough to hope things turn out well for them in the end.

There are a few twists in the book, but it is not a complicated read. It is the sort of book you can curl up with and relax, but it is not one to make you think or that will change the world. However, I did find it quite addictive and a page turner, which is why I rated it at four stars, not three. This was not in a gripping, edge of the seat, what will happen next kind of way, more in the sense of how will it all work out in the end?

Worth borrowing from the library, or buying to take on holiday if you want a light, entertaining read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE POWER OF THE SISTERHOOD OF WOMEN... 5 July 2004
This New York Times best selling novel is a beautifully written, coming of age story, set in rural South Carolina in 1964 against the back drop of the civil rights movement. It is the touching story of a young white girl, fourteen year old Lily Owens, whose mother died in a tragic accident when Lily was about four. Lily lives with her father, a harsh man with whom no love is lost, on a peach farm outside Sylvan, South Carolina. Her mother's death stands between them.
Neglected by her father, Lily is brought up by Rosaleen, a big-hearted black woman, who loves Lily and whom Lily loves. Yet, hers is a lonely existence, compounded by her unquenched thirst for information about her mother, Deborah. All she has left of her mother are some cloudy memories and a box containing a few mementos, among them a picture of a Black Madonna, inscribed with the words, "Tiburon, S.C."
When Rosaleen goes into town to register to vote, she feels empowered by the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and has a run-in with the town's three biggest racists, resulting in Rosaleen being taken into custody. Lily arranges for her to break free. Together, they seek sanctuary in Tiburon, South Carolina, where Lily discovers the mystery of the Black Madonna. Taken in by a trio of middle-aged black women who are sisters, as well as beekeepers, Lily is introduced to the secret life of bees and begins to learn some important life lessons. She also learns something about her mother and finds love where she least expected.
This is simply a beautifully realized novel, written in a true Southern voice by a wonderful writer with a story to tell. It is little wonder that this compelling book has received so many accolades. It is a stunning fiction debut by the author.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Book review
Enjoyed the book. Have read a number of books covering the racial problems in American south in the same era this book is set in. This was an interesting slant on the problem. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Evelyn Stewart
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Thoroughly enjoyed this book with lively and interesting characters. I have ordered another of this author's books and am hoping it's just as good.
Published 2 days ago by Lemon B
5.0 out of 5 stars Secret life of bees
This book was one that I found hard to put down, so well written that you actually felt as though you were Lily.
Published 4 days ago by C. Palmer
4.0 out of 5 stars A book that makes you look at the world as you did........
A story that captures a bygone era. One of beauty, cruelty, evolution and keeping old traditions alive. A captivating tale......... Read more
Published 9 days ago by TMD
4.0 out of 5 stars Good easy read.
Chose this book as my bookclub book, not knowing much about it. Really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by this author
Published 18 days ago by Jkquaradeghini
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming
I loved this book. It is heart warming even for an old pessimist like me. I will definitely read another one of her books.
Published 18 days ago by Joanna Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars the most beautiful book I have ever read
The words dance of the page and captivate, simply beautiful.
I recommend this to all. You will not be able to put it down.
Published 20 days ago by becky m
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant read.
This is light reading but I enjoyed the story and once started I wanted to keep going at any opportunity I had. The characters were feisty and likeable. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Betty Q
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy the book
Buy the book rather than watching the film! Very very good read! Very well written. Great gift for book worms!
Published 28 days ago by hmeraai
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
This book is a wonderful story of self discovery , it's beautifully written and I absolutely loved every moment of it . Definitely worth a read.
Published 29 days ago by Caitlin
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