The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

In Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, 14-year-old Lily Owen, neglected by her father and isolated on their Georgia 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.

I enjoyed the second half of this book more than the first half, when Lily and Rosaleen get to Tiburon.  However as you can't have one half of the story without the other, I had to plow through the first half to get to the second half.  It is worth persevering though.

It brought home how much racial unrest there was in the Southern States in the early 60's, and how much brutality there was and how the police turned a blind eye.  I loved Lily and felt her pain and sorrow as all she wants is her mother.

T-Ray was a nasty piece of work, but even he showed a vulnerable side near the end, but not enough to make you like him.

For those of you who have seen the movie, how did you feel about the actors who were cast to play the roles?  I haven't seen the movie but I would not have cast some of those particular actresses to play the specific roles.  Jennifer Hudson would not have been my idea for Rosaleen, she was much too young.  Neither would Alicia Keys for June, she also was much too young.  Queen Latifah as August I could well imagine and I don't know the actress who played May.

Stars out of 5 : 4 I preferred Sue's other book, The Invention of Wings better.  This book was a bit of a slow start for me, but when it got going, it drew me in and captured my attention.  The interesting facts about bee keeping and honey were an added bonus.


  1. I read this book and enjoyed it. I haven't read this author's other book and I should look into it.

  2. I enjoyed this book and never got around to seeing the movie.

  3. Queen Latifah did a great job as August in the film. This one is definitely a keeper.

  4. I loved the book and the film, which I have seen several times. While I'm talking about the book, I would also recommend The Mermaid Chair, another little gem, never shown in England, I believe.
    The film of 'bees' I found captivating. It reminds me of my time in Tennessee, the heat and the smells all come back when i watch it. I thought all the acting was brilliant so no comments there. Of course the book is always better than the film, isn't it. I didn't find it slow.

  5. Youve made me want to go watch the movie again. i recognise the actors but not the story line as youve described the first half of the book. I do remember liking it though.

  6. I liked this book a lot.

    Gill, I'm having trouble getting into your main blog, two days in a row. I hope it's just something crazy to do with Blogger and that it will correct itself soon!

  7. I have not seen the movie and was years ago that I read the I need to read it again. And at first glance it appears that the movie is on Youtube, so will watch it sometime soon if I don't forget...


Post a Comment

I'd love to read your thoughts..........

Popular posts from this blog

"All Saints," by Michael Spurlock and Jeanette Windle

"A Most Noble Heir," by Susan Anne Mason

"Fault Lines," by Thomas Locke