The Secret Life of Bees Paperback – 3 Mar 2003
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'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)
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is captivating. You can smell the land and honey, feel the strength these women give to each other and I defy you to not read it start to finish twice over. Read morePublished 2 hours ago by Amazon Customer
The narrative was affecting.
The life of that time and place disturbing.
I read and , and am effected.
Young New hatched queens do fight for the hive.
This was the best book I have read in a very long time, and I read a lot of books!
The complexity and range of characters, so beautifully described and imagined, provides a... Read more
Sad, uplifting, soul searching and wonderful tale. Started reading and couldn't put it down, finished it in one afternoon sitting.Published 1 day ago by Ms. A. L. Thomas
Lily and Rosaleen find safety security and love in a home which revolves around the care of bees and production of honey. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Pen Peters
Brilliant read. Didn't want to put it down. Would like to read more about August and the daughters. Well writtenPublished 1 day ago by Shelley Smart
Sensitive and moving story about loss and the healing power of love. The characters are wonderful. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.Published 2 days ago by Rachel