"The bees came the summer of 1964, the summer I turned fourteen and my life went spinning off into a whole new orbit, and I mean whole new orbit. Looking back on it now, I want to say the bees were sent to me. I want to say they showed up like the angel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary, setting events in motion I could never have guessed." So begins the story of Lily Melissa Owens, a plucky girl, rich in humor despite heart wrenching circumstances. Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her harsh, unyielding father, her entire life has been shaped around one devastating, though blurred, memory- the afternoon her mother was killed. Four at the time, she remembers innocently picking up the gun. And, she has her father's eyewitness account of the gun firing. People remind her it was an accident, yet she's inhabited by a torturous guilt. Lily's only real companion is Rosaleen, a tender, but fierce-hearted black woman who cooks, cleans and acts as her "stand-in mother."
South Carolina in 1964 is a place and time of seething racial divides. When violence explodes one summer afternoon, and Rosaleen is arrested and beaten, Lily is desperate, not only to save Rosaleen, but to flee a life she can no longer endure. Calling upon her colorful wits and uncommon daring, she breaks Rosaleen out of jail and the two of them take off, runaway-fugitives conjoined in an escape that quickly turns into Lily's quest for the truth about her mother's life.
Following a trail left ten years earlier, Lily and Rosaleen end up in the home of three bee-keeping sisters. No ordinary women, the sisters revere a Black Madonna and tend a unique brand of female spirituality that reaches back to the time of slavery. As Lily's life becomes deeply entwined with theirs, she is irrevocably altered. In a mesmerizing world of bees and honey, amid the strength and power of wise women, Lily journeys through painful secrets and shattering betrayals, finding her way to the single thing her heart longs for most.
About the Author
Already the author of two widely acclaimed nonfiction books, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and When the Heart Waits, Sue Monk Kidd broke into blockbuster bestselling territory with her first novel, the book-club favorite The Secret Life of Bees.
"A moving first novel...Lily is an authentic and winning character and her story is compellingly told. The bees presage her journey toward self-acceptance, faith and freedom that is at the heart of this novel." --USA Today"Inspiring. Sue Monk Kidd is a direct literary descendant of Carson McCullers." --The Baltimore Sun
"Fully imagined...the core of this story is Lily's search for a mother, and she finds one in a place she never expected." --The New York Times Book Review
"This is the story of a young girl's journey toward healing, and of the intrinsic sacredness of living in the world. Simply wonderful." --Anne Rivers Siddons
""The stunning metaphors and realistic characters are so poignant they will bring tears to your eyes." --Library Journal
"Kidd has written a triumphant coming-of-age novel that speaks to the universal need for love" --New Orleans Times-Picayune
"The chapters...dance on the edges of 'Magical Realism, ' that blend of the fabulous and the ordinary that can invest a tale with a sense of wonderment, as is the case here." --Richmond Times-Dispatch
"I am amazed that this moving, original, and accomplished book is a first novel. It is wonderfully written, powerful, poignant, and humorous, and deliciously eccentric. Do read it." --Joanna Trollope
"A wonderful novel about mothers and daughters and the transcendent power of love." --Connie May Fowler
"A truly original Southern voice." --Anita Shreve
"It's as if Kidd loaded up a take-home plate with treats, and you said 'Oh, I couldn't, ' and then scarfed it down in the car on the way home." --Entertainment Weekly
"The tale of one motherless daughter's discovery of what family really means--and of the strange and wondrous places we love." --The Washington Post
For Ages: 18+ years old
For Grades: 9+
Number Of Pages: 1
Published: 1st February 2003
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 19.68 x 12.7
Weight (kg): 0.23
Edition Type: New edition