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The Secret Life of Bees Paperback – 3 Mar 2003

4.5 out of 5 stars 858 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tinder Press; New Ed edition (3 Mar. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747266832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747266839
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (858 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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

The multi-million-copy-bestselling first novel from the author of THE INVENTION OF WINGS. THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES was a New York Times bestseller for over two years, was made into an award-winning film and was long-listed for the Orange Prize.

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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel was enjoyable enough but the plot, for me, was also unfortunately flawed so that I have nagging doubts about how much praise I have for it. In some places it was downright boring, especially when waiting endlessly (and seemingly for no other reason that to make the novel novel-length) for Lily to discover more about her mother, the crux of the plot. There were also a few too many convenient coincidences and clichés for me; without giving away too much of the plot, the romantic relationship that develops is particularly forced.

In terms of the imagery used, I thought it was clever to parallel the strong female characters with the idea of a beehive, led and run by female creatures, while its males are well-nigh superfluous. Nevertheless, with constant repetition this theme became dull too; by the end I felt blugeoned by bee, moon and mother imagery.

That being said, overall I did enjoy the novel more that I was frustrated by it. Its characters are interesting; I warmed to the Boatwright sisters, enjoyed evaluating whether or not I could stand the protagonist Lily (!), and spent a lot of time considering who was at fault for the way Lily's family relationships turned out - the latter puzzle reminded me favourably of Shriver's "We Need to Talk About Kevin".

Additionally, the blending of racial and political context into the story was subtle and well-balanced; aside from details of contemporary presidents and the build-up to the first US moon-landing, the portrayal of the Civil Rights Act through the understanding of a young white South Carolinian girl in the '60s seemed accurate and honest. It is presented without moralistic or apologetic tone to smooth the discrimination over.
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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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