Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Buzz on the Bee Book

Last night wonderful food and booktalk at Jessica's. Gene Girl's choice under scrutiny this month: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. (Though Gene Girl herself was missing in action.)

The synopsis from Monk Kidd's website:
In this New York Times bestseller, a young girl's search for the truth about her mother leads her to three beekeeping sisters who take her into their mesmerizing world of bees and honey and of a mysterious Black Madonna. A novel about mothers and daughters and the women in our lives who become our true mothers. A story about the divine power of women and the transforming power of love.

As sweet and sticky as the book it describes!

The group was pretty much divided between the yes-I-enjoyed-its and the no-I-couldn't-stand-its. Our only guy, Kumar, hated it - described it as "oestrogen-soaked" and said it "bored the crap" out of him. (Kumar is fast becoming master of the soundbite.)

I found it a nice, relaxing read to begin with, though thought the humour a little forced. I like the characters, particularly 'The Calendar Sisters' who take Lily in. But the book sags horribly towards the end and I found myself skimming the last third just to get to the end quickly. (As someone said last night "I wanted the Klu Klux Klan and some lynching.") I also found the feminine solidarity theme utterly cloying.

This is Hallmark Channel stuff. (Can just see Oprah and Whoopie Goldberg playing leading parts.) It drips honey and niceness and feel-goodness, but never gives us a convincing account of the inner life of its protagonist.

I think the book might appeal rather more to teenagers, although a much better read would be Carson Mc Cullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.


porty said...

Jane Smiley's "A Thousand Acres" is better than both probably (although it's more about the American midwest (which isn't in the midwest at all.) It's weird how the midwest and the middle east are so far apart isn't it ?

bibliobibuli said...

I will look out for Jane Smiley's book - thnks ... but the Carson McCullers is a book I read three decades ago (*sob* I'm so old) and can still remember in some detail because it made a real emotional impression on me.

Leah said...

Have not read it, Sharon, but I think anyone who seriously believes in all that gooey, female solidarity guff has never had a sister, a mother, a female co-worker or a even a female friend! Too cynical?

bibliobibuli said...

Leah - Not at all cynical!