The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees

Book rating: 03 Paperback Review

By (author) Sue Monk Kidd

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  • Publisher: HEADLINE REVIEW
  • Format: Paperback | 384 pages
  • Dimensions: 132mm x 198mm x 32mm | 260g
  • Publication date: 3 March 2003
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0747266832
  • ISBN 13: 9780747266839
  • Sales rank: 929

Product description

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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Author information

Sue Monk Kidd is the author of two widely acclaimed memoirs, THE DANCE OF THE DISSIDENT DAUGHTER and WHEN THE HEART WAITS. Her fiction has appeared in several literary journals. Her second novel, THE MERMAID CHAIR, is published by Review in March 2005. Sue Monk Kidd lives beside a salt marsh in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband.

Customer reviews

By a Book Depository customer 10 Dec 2008 3

"I love this book, it's beautifully written and had me drawn in completely. It's about friendship and family, right and wrong. I felt as though I was there as I read it and it's one book I'll always cherish.
Verdict: Wonderful"

Review quote

'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

Editorial reviews

Fourteen-year-old Lily is growing up in 1960s South Carolina, trying to come to terms with the knowledge that aged only four she accidentally shot and killed her own mother. Growing up with only her tyrannical father and a black servant called Rosaleen, Lily pines for her mother and is tormented by guilt. She develops a strange fascination with the bees which creep out of her bedroom wall at night bees which soon become a link between her present, past and future. One day Lily ends up rescuing Rosaleen from a racist incident, and they leave home with only a few remaining items that belonged to Lily's dead mother. These possessions lead them to meet and move in with a family of three black bee-keeping sisters, with whom Lily and Rosaleen develop a close relationship, finding acceptance and love that Lily never experienced as a child. With the help of time and the sisters, Lily learns more about herself, the mystery of her past and the world at large. As the story unfolds she begins to overcome the guilt and unhappiness that she has always suffered. The novel demonstrates that tragic childhood circumstances can still result in love, friendship and happiness. The theme of bees and bee-keeping provides a delightful and unusual undertone. (Kirkus UK)