Monday, May 28, 2007

The Seecret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees is a beautifully written novel. Despite the fact that it is Sue Monk’s first, it already demonstrates her extraordinary talent. She manages to get across the essential messages in the life of human beings in a clever way. She does that through describing the life of bees, which the central characters of the novel are interlinked with from the very opening scenes.

Set in the American South in the 1960s, the story of focus is Lily’s account of her life at the age of 14 and her childhood leading up to that age. Her childhood was a deeply unenviable one, involving “motherlessness”, because Lily accidentally shot her when she was 4 during a fight between her mother and father; and involving also “fatherlesness” because Lily was totally neglected by her unloving father. Thus, confused and in search of being loved, she is in constant longing for her mother.

Finally, at the age of 14, she decides to take action and escapes from her father to find out as much as she can about her dead mother. With her nanny Rosaleen, Lily finally finds tracks that lead her to signs and stories of her mother in the home of three black sisters, August, May and June. In the house of those three beekeepers Lily, through numerous twists and turns, not only finds discovers the truth about her mother, but also finds a home and more importantly, finds peace within her troubled self.

The novel offers the author’s profound knowledge of how important it is to find one’s “self” on the path to fulfillment, as is shown in the case of Lily. Monk also focuses on the representation of strength and the powerful “sisterhood” of women, helping each other through numerous hardships. The story is also filled with references to the life of bees and beekeeping, which are interlinked with the lives of human beings. Last but not least, the novel offers references to historical events of the 1960s America and the Civil Rights Movement, which makes the novel very interesting and extremely informative, and gives it a realistic touch.

The Secret Life of Bees is a very compelling and dazzling book, yet full of gentle wit. It is a must to read – a breathtaking achievement indeed.

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