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The Secret Life of Bees [Hardcover]

Sue Monk Kidd
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (321 customer reviews)
RRP: 15.46
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Book Description

1 Jan 2003
The multimillion-copy-bestselling first novel by the author of "The Invention of Wings," coming from Viking in January 2014 "The Secret Life of Bees" was a "New York Times" bestseller for more than two and a half years, a "Good Morning America" "Read This" Book Club pick and was made into an award-winning film starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, and Alicia Keys. A coming of age tale set in South Carolina in 1964, "The Secret Life of Bees" will appeal to fans of Kathryn Stockett's "The Help" and Beth Hoffman's "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt," and tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's most vicious racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love--a story that women will continue to share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Perfection Learning (1 Jan 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756921198
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756921194
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (321 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 466,331 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"A moving first novel...Lily is an authentic and winning character and her story is compellingly told. The bees presage her journey toward self-acceptance, faith and freedom that is at the heart of this novel." --USA Today "Inspiring. Sue Monk Kidd is a direct literary descendant of Carson McCullers." --The Baltimore Sun "Fully imagined...the core of this story is Lily's search for a mother, and she finds one in a place she never expected." --The New York Times Book Review "This is the story of a young girl's journey toward healing, and of the intrinsic sacredness of living in the world. Simply wonderful." --Anne Rivers Siddons ""The stunning metaphors and realistic characters are so poignant they will bring tears to your eyes." --Library Journal "Kidd has written a triumphant coming-of-age novel that speaks to the universal need for love" --New Orleans Times-Picayune "The on the edges of 'Magical Realism, ' that blend of the fabulous and the ordinary that can invest a tale with a sense of wonderment, as is the case here." --Richmond Times-Dispatch "I am amazed that this moving, original, and accomplished book is a first novel. It is wonderfully written, powerful, poignant, and humorous, and deliciously eccentric. "Do" read it." --Joanna Trollope "A wonderful novel about mothers and daughters and the transcendent power of love." --Connie May Fowler "A truly original Southern voice." --Anita Shreve "It's as if Kidd loaded up a take-home plate with treats, and you said 'Oh, I couldn't, ' and then scarfed it down in the car on the way home." --Entertainment Weekly "The tale of one motherless daughter's discovery of what family really means--and of the strange and wondrous places we love." --The Washington Post inds herself moving past the safety of her own personal boundaries. In th --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

One of twenty ground-breaking titles that shaped the Headline list over twenty years

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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
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 16 hours 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 5 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 14 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 15 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 16 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 22 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 24 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 25 days ago by Caitlin
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
So glad to have read this book. It was another slant of the period which I remember well . The story was intriguing & empathetic with some lovely moments of love & compassion... Read more
Published 26 days ago by Anthea Penhallow
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
A truly good read. A friend told me about this after I had read Invention of Wings and it didn't disappoint. Would definitely recommend.
Published 27 days ago by Julie
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