Novels set in the south in times past are one of my favorite types of novels to read. The Secret Life of Bees is just that. Lily Owens is a motherless child. She has foggy memories of the late afternoon her mother was killed. Who she is and what her life is about is shaped by viewing that tragic end to her mother's life. She is left with a father who is steeped in bitterness and cannot let go of the past. Lily's story takes place in South Carolina in 1964. Racial tension abounds with integration having been recently legislated, but not accepted in Sylvan, North Carolina; as in most of the South. Lily's father has a black female employee whom he has handed over Lily's daily care to. She insults the most racist man in Sylvan and is thrown in jail. Lily decides that she and Rosaleen must escape. She plots Rosaleen's escape from the hospital after being beaten by the man she insulted. They run to Tiburon, S.C. There is where Lily finds her mother's history and is taken in by an eccentric family of female beekeepers. She lives and works with them and they employ Rosaleen as well. Sue Monk Kidd is the author of this tale and she spins it well. It seems just like the type of thing that could have happened and she writes is with a grace and beauty that make this book a good read. The author does a good job of describing the interaction between characters as well as their surroundings. Describing Lily's thought she writes "Sunset is the saddest light there is. We rode a long time in the glow of it, everything silent except for the crickets and the frogs who were revving up for twilight. I stared through the windshield as the burned lights took over the sky." I can imagine being in that scene. This book is a good escape but still has an absorbing story line. If you haven't read it, pick it up and do so. I recently took this on vacation to read and it was an excellent choice. Five stars for The Secret Life of Bees. FYI, this has been made into a movie also, so you can read and then watch, or vice versa, whichever you like.
Stay tuned for my next review on the newest release from Lisa Wingate, The Story Keeper. See you soon!