Friday, October 17, 2008

Book to Movie: The Secret Lives of Bees

Summary: In Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, 14-year-old Lily Owen, neglected by her father and isolated on their South Carolina peach farm, spends hours imagining a blissful infancy when she was loved and nurtured by her mother, Deborah, whom she barely remembers. These consoling fantasies are her heart's answer to the family story that as a child, in unclear circumstances, Lily accidentally shot and killed her mother. All Lily has left of Deborah is a strange image of a Black Madonna, with the words "Tiburon, South Carolina" scrawled on the back. The search for a mother, and the need to mother oneself, are crucial elements in this well-written coming-of-age story set in the early 1960s against a background of racial violence and unrest. When Lily's beloved nanny, Rosaleen, manages to insult a group of angry white men on her way to register to vote and has to skip town, Lily takes the opportunity to go with her, fleeing to the only place she can think of--Tiburon, South Carolina--determined to find out more about her dead mother. Although the plot threads are too neatly trimmed, The Secret Life of Bees is a carefully crafted novel with an inspired depiction of character. The legend of the Black Madonna and the brave, kind, peculiar women who perpetuate Lily's story dominate the second half of the book, placing Kidd's debut novel squarely in the honored tradition of the Southern Gothic.

Review: I can't believe that it's been 7 years since I've read this wonderful book. I'm so thrilled that they made it into a movie. My mom had actually recommended the book to me, so we went to see it together along with my sister. The movie was every bit as good as I remember the book being. The cast is just fantastic. While I may not have wanted Dakota Fanning in My Sister's Keeper, she was superb as Lily Owen. Queen Latifah was her usual charming self as Beekeeper August Boatright; Alicia Keys shines as June Boatwright; Sofie Okenedo is wonderful as kind, sensitive May Boatwright. I can't believe that was Paul Bettany as T. Ray Owens. I knew he looked familiar but I just couldn't place him since it was a different role for him. I can't forget the wonderful Jennifer Hudson who's character Rosaleen is the catalyst for the story.

The story is funny and very moving depending on the scene. It is definitely a coming of age story in a very turbulent and pertinent time in US history. The music throughout the movie is beautiful and fits perfectly. I wonder if Ms. Keys learned how to play the cello. I would think with her background she would be able to pick it up fairly quickly. The story of the Black Madonna moved me to tears and I loved how it was an integral part of who Lilly became.

It's a story about family and finding out who you are and where you belong. Something I think all of us can relate too.

Now I can't speak to how it translates from the novel to the movie because of how long it's been since I read it, but the movie is worth whatever the price in your area.

Book to Movie Final Take: 5/5


Jenn October 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM  

I think I really need to read this.

Marg October 18, 2008 at 7:52 PM  

I have owned this book for years and yet I have never managed to read it!

Julie October 18, 2008 at 9:51 PM  

Jenn - Yes you should. Keep the kleenex close.

Marg - Move it to your short TBR pile.

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