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The Secret Life of Bees Paperback – 3 Mar 2003


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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: 13 x 2.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (402 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'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

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By b.lops on 31 Jan 2009
Format: Paperback
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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160 of 171 people found the following review helpful By Janette on 8 April 2003
Format: Paperback
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By johnny lone on 3 Jun 2004
Format: Paperback
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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 July 2004
Format: Paperback
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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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Monica on 28 Jan 2005
Format: Paperback
I have made it a point of reading inspirational books which can help me have a positive outlook to life. Though it reads like a non-fictional memoir, "The Secret Life of Bees" even though it is fictitious, has been tremendously helpful to me as an inspirational book. It is brilliantly written with amazing details and beautiful settings. It showed the unique creativity of the author. This hard to put down book, is sure to capture your heart with its imagery.

Sue Monk Kidd does a brilliant job of laying out a storyline that is not only believable, but is interesting as well. I could not put this book down. Lily Owens will capture your heart. Despite the abuse from the hands of her father T. Ray, she turned out to be a survivor. Sharing her destiny with the beekeeping sisters, and their Black Madonna honey, she finally attains some emotional security in her life. May, one of the sisters is someone who inspires. This is a novel for young adults and adults, because at 14, Lily fights with the hazy memory of her dead mother whom she misses and longs for in rural South Carolina of 1964, where racial violence is inescapable. She finds solace in her surrogate mother - the family's black servant, Rosaleen, who later becomes a victim of racial hatred. It moved on to the escape of Lily and Rosaleen, the search for the identity of Lily's mother's identity and the quest for a sense of belonging in her life This journey led Lily and Rosaleen into the lives of three strange but alluring beekeepers who set Lily who helped Lily to grow up and be at peace with her family and its history.

The story is told through Lily's eyes, mouth, mind and heart, and as such it is deep, hilarious and inspiring.
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