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23.02.2016
Sue Monk Kidd's ravishing debut novel has stolen the hearts of reviewers and readers alike with its strong, assured voice. I found myself reading Sue Monk Kidd's breathtaking first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, during a season of extraordinary sadness, a time of boundless ache, deep anxiety and creeping distrust. Honey-sweet but never cloying, this debut by nonfiction author Kidd (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter) features a hive's worth of appealing female characters, an offbeat plot and a lovely style. Fourteen-year-old Lily and Rosaleen, the black woman who has been Lily's stand-in mother for ten years, take to the road in 1964.
This sweeping debut novel, excerpts of which have appeared in Best American Short Stories, tells the tale of a 14-year-old white girl named Lily Owen who is raised by the elderly African American Rosaleen after the accidental death of Lily's mother. Lily Owens, 14, is an emotionally abused white girl living with her cold, uncaring father on a peach farm in rural South Carolina. A wonderfully written debut that rather scants its subject of loss and discovery-a young girl searching for the truth about her dead mother-in favor of a feminist fable celebrating the company of women and the ties between that mothers and daughters.
The Secret Life of BeesThe Secret Life of Bees focuses on Lily Owens, a teenage girl living during the time of the Civil Rights Act, who has had to carry around the burden of accidentally killing her mother at the age of four. Enabling JavaScript in your browser will allow you to experience all the features of our site. Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. Rosaleen is escaping from jail after insulting the town's racists while Lily flees her abusive father and the haunting memory of her mother's violent death. The memory of her mother, who was accidentally killed in Lily's presence when she was four, haunts her constantly. The prose is lapidary, the characters diverse, and the story unusual as it crosses the color line, details worship of a black Virgin Mary, and extensively describes the lives and keeping of bees. Lily is stuck living with T-Ray her abusive father who does not love or show any respect for Lily. When Lily's fierce-hearted "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's fiercest racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Fourteen-year-old Lily is on the lam with motherly servant Rosaleen, fleeing both Lily's abusive father T. They journey to Tiburon, South Carolina, because Lily found the place name on the back of a black Madonna picture among her late mother's possessions. She has one of her mother's few possessions, a picture of a black Madonna with the words, Tiburon, South Carolina, written on the back. But despite these accomplishments, the fabulist elements (bees as harbingers of death, a statue with healing powers) seem more whimsical than credible and ultimately detract from the story itself. After getting thrown in jail for insulting white men, Lily breaks them free and they set off on their journey to find out about 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. Lily's companion during her sad childhood has been Rosaleen, the black woman hired to care for her. Lily Owens, just about to turn 14, narrates this tale set in South Carolina during July 1964. They end up in Tiburon, South Carolina and stay with the Southern black beekeeping Boatwright sisters, where Lily finds out how it feels to be part of a real family.
This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love--a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
Lily is also fleeing memories, particularly her jumbled recollection of how, as a frightened four-year-old, she accidentally shot and killed her mother during a fight with T.
There the runaways are sheltered by May, June, and Augusta€”black beekeeping sisters who are also keepers of the truth Lily seeks.
Rosaleen, in a euphoric mood after the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, goes to town to register to vote and insults one of the town's most racist residents. Since her mother died when she was four, Lily has been raised by African-American Rosaleen and by her sadistic father T. About the Author:Sue Monk Kidd, author of the highly acclaimed memoirs The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and When the Heart Waits, has won a Poets & Writers award, a Katherine Anne Porter Award, and a Bread Loaf scholarship. After she is beaten up and hospitalized, Lily decides to rescue her and they go to Tiburon to search for memories of her mother. Because the story took place during the Civil Rights Act, Sue Monk Kidd (author) also had the intent of showing the struggles African Americans when through to gain freedom and rights during that time period.In the book The Secret Life of Bees, a lot more history was given about the Boatwright sisters and Deborah Fontanel Owens. Two of her short stories--including an excerpt from The Secret Life of Bees--were selected as notable stories in Best American Short Stories. There they are taken in by three black sisters who are beekeepers producing a line of honey with the Black Madonna label. When Rosaleen is arrested and beaten for trying to vote, Lily springs her from the hospital, and they head to the town of Tiburon because its name is on the back of a cross that belonged to Lily's mother.
The book also when into a lot more detail and added events to help better enforce the theme of the book, which was equality. The Secret Life of Bees was nominated for the prestigious Orange Prize for fiction in England.
It turns out that the town is headquarters of Black Madonna Honey, produced by three middle-aged black sisters, August, June and May Boatwright. While racial tensions simmer around them, the women help Lily accept her loss and learn the power of forgiveness.
On the front is a picture of a black Madonna who can also be seen on the labels of jars of honey produced in Tiburon by local beekeeper Augusta Boatwright.


The movie spent more time discussing Lily's life with her father and working on the peach farm that he owned.These changes were made because books are able to go into more detail to give the reader an image in their head of what is happening in the book. The way those bees flew, not even looking for a flower, just flying for the feel of the wind, split my heart down its seam." This is how the book begins, and this is how the author transports us into the story. The "Calendar sisters" take in the fugitives, putting Lily to work in the honey house, where for the first time in years she's happy.
There is a wonderful sense of the strength of female friendship and love throughout the story.-Penny Stevens, Andover College, Portland, ME Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. If all of the details from the book were added to the movie, the movie would have been too long and dragged out.I prefered the book over the movie because I liked the detail that the book was able to go into about the Boatwright sisters and the history of Black Mary (the statue in the Boatwright house that they prayed to).
But August, clearly the queen bee of the Boatwrights, keeps asking Lily searching questions.
With the deatils given I was able to have a vivid image of the goings-on in the book while reading which kept me interested and wanting to read more.The setting in the movie including the scenery and the costumes gave the story a realistic feel because it set the scene for South Carolina during the late 1960s, when the story takes place.
The other characters are wise and understanding mother figures, but Lily captures the reader.
In particular the honey house and the bee hives and equipment were perfect to show the business of the Boatwright sisters. But Lily is a budding writer, desperate to connect yet fiercely protective of her secret interior life. This novel also is of place and settinga€”the oppressive heat, the swarming bees, the countryside smells, and the pervasive racism are experienced through Kidd's words.
Also the scenes showing racial prejudice downtown were very well executed because you were able to clearly see the division between blacks and whites. Kidd's success at capturing the moody adolescent girl's voice makes her ambivalence comprehensible and charming. And it's deeply satisfying when August teaches Lily to "find the mother in (herself)" a soothing lesson that should charm female readers of all ages.
She lives with her father, a punishing man, and with Rosaleen, Lily's black "stand-in mother," who had worked on the family's peach farm until she was brought inside to take on the newly motherless girl. Rosaleen has been practicing her cursive writing so that she can register to vote, and she has picked herself a candidate to back. It isn't long before Lily and Rosaleen are inducted into their world: "We lived for honey," Lily says.



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