Sunday, November 9, 2008

Lisa's Review: The Secret Life of Bees

Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her harsh, unyielding father, Lily Owens has shaped her entire life around one devastating, blurred memory--the afternoon her mother was killed, when Lily was four. Since then, her only real companion has been the fierce-hearted, and sometimes just fierce, black woman Rosaleen, who acts as her "stand-in mother."

When Rosaleen insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily knows it's time to spring them both free. They take off in the only direction Lily can think of, toward a town called Tiburon, South Carolina--a name she found on the back of a picture amid the few possessions left by her mother.

There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters named May, June, and August. Lily thinks of them as the calendar sisters and enters their mesmerizing secret world of bees and honey, and of the Black Madonna who presides over this household of strong, wise women. Maternal loss and betrayal, guilt and forgiveness entwine in a story that leads Lily to the single thing her heart longs for most.

The Secret Life of Bees has a rare wisdom about life--about mothers and daughters and the women in our lives who become our true mothers. A remarkable story about the divine power of women and the transforming power of love, this is a stunning debut whose rich, assured, irresistible voice gathers us up and doesn't let go, not for a moment. It is the kind of novel that women share with each other and that mothers will hand down to their daughters for years to come.
I'd never heard of The Secret Life of Bees. Maybe I had, and it never registered. When I'd learned of of the movie and realized it was based on a novel, I knew I had to get to reading.

Unfortunately I found myself detained by Edgar Sawtelle. Anyway, I was careful not to read Julie's review of the movie, because I wanted to savor. And savor I did!

I really would just be repeating Julie, telling you just how wonderful this book is. To say it was well written, heartwarming and relevant would just be redundant. Getting caught up with getting to know the Boatwright Sisters, the colorful Daughters (and Son) of Mary, and learning about their livelihood was nothing short of a pleasure. I was unfortunate enough to find myself, on a crowded train, nearing the end of the book, with nary a tissue in sight, no desire to stop reading and absolutely not caring.

I thought the ending was a bit saccharine and tied up really neatly, probably more than I normally would, and the cynic in me knew that this element would get played up in the movie. I saw this as the biggest detriment to my enjoyment of the book-knowing about the movie. I was not truly able to create my own versions of the characters myself, due to visions of Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson dancing in my head.

Inability to compartmentalize aside, I had a truly emotional reading experience and you will too.

And finally, I'm off to the theatre.

Final Take: 4.5/5


Julie November 9, 2008 at 2:43 PM  

I'm soo happy you enjoyed it!! I think you'll enjoy the movie as well.

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