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The Secret Life of Bees
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New or Used: £7.91
New or Used: £7.91

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Sue Monk Kidd's exquisite first novel has received huge acclaim. 'Wonderfully written, powerful, poignant, and humorous... Do read it' Joanna Trollope

About the Author

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.

Reviews

In 1964 South Carolina, 14-year-old Lily is seeking to escape her abusive father through her fantasies about her deceased mother. She has few mementos of Deborah, but chief among them is a mysterious picture of a black Madonna. She runs away with her servant to Tiburon, SC, and to the Black Madonna Honey company, where middle-aged sisters May, June, and August take the two fugitives in and introduce them to the ways of beekeeping and the sisterhood of Our Lady of Chains. The predictability of the plot is well balanced by the author's descriptions and Lily's increasing struggles with the truth about her mother's past. Read by Karen White, this is a well-paced and crafted Gothic debut that mixes humor with tragedy. Highly recommended.-Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

'A personal favourite, one of those infectiously written books you can't get out of your mind...a lovely tale' Bookseller -- Bookseller 20021122 'A tale that's beautifully and movingly written' Buzz -- Buzz 20030301 'Kidd's first novel is well placed, gentle and deeply moving' The Times -- The Times 20030308

Adult/High School-Lily Owens, 14, is an emotionally abused white girl living with her cold, uncaring father on a peach farm in rural South Carolina. The memory of her mother, who was accidentally killed in Lily's presence when she was four, haunts her constantly. 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. Lily's companion during her sad childhood has been Rosaleen, the black woman hired to care for her. 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. After she is beaten up and hospitalized, Lily decides to rescue her and they go to Tiburon to search for memories of her mother. There they are taken in by three black sisters who are beekeepers producing a line of honey with the Black Madonna label. While racial tensions simmer around them, the women help Lily accept her loss and learn the power of forgiveness. 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.

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. It's 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act, in Sylvan, S.C. Fourteen-year-old Lily is on the lam with motherly servant Rosaleen, fleeing both Lily's abusive father T. Ray and the police who battered Rosaleen for defending her new right to vote. 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. Ray. Among her mother's possessions, Lily finds a picture of a black Virgin Mary with "Tiburon, S.C." on the back so, blindly, she and Rosaleen head there. It turns out that the town is headquarters of Black Madonna Honey, produced by three middle-aged black sisters, August, June and May Boatwright. 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. But August, clearly the queen bee of the Boatwrights, keeps asking Lily searching questions. Faced with so ideally maternal a figure as August, most girls would babble uncontrollably. But Lily is a budding writer, desperate to connect yet fiercely protective of her secret interior life. 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. (Jan. 28) Forecast: Blurbs from an impressive lineup of women writers Anita Shreve, Susan Isaacs, Ursula Hegi pitch this book straight at its intended readership. It's hard to say whether confusion with the similarly titled Bee Season will hurt or help sales, but a 10-city author tour should help distinguish Kidd. Film rights have been optioned and foreign rights sold in England and France. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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