There's a sweet new voice in the world of Southern fiction, and it would be wise to listen.
The Secret Life of Bees is the first novel by Sue Monk Kidd. Set in 1964, this is the story of Lily Melissa Owens, who lives on a peach farm in South Carolina. At four years of age, Lily accidentally killed her mother. Her father is a harsh and cruel man, and Lily craves her mother’s love. She does have the friendship of Rosaleen, a Negro servant, but when events put Rosaleen in jail and in danger of her life, Lily decides they need to escape. Lily follows the scant trail left by her mother and they end up living with the eccentric Boatwright sisters, farming honey and learning to understand the world and themselves. Filled with facts and anecdotes about bees and beekeeping, this heart-warming tale has tears and laughter and much wisdom. For me, it was reminiscent of novels by Alice Hoffman and Alice Walker’s The Colour Purple. The epigraphs about bees at the beginning of each chapter were a delightful touch.