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The Secret Life of Bees
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About the Author

Sue Monk Kidd's first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, spent more than one hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold more than six million copies in the United States, and was turned into an award-winning major motion picture, and has been translated into thirty-six languages. Her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, was a number-one New York Times bestseller and adapted into a television movie. Her third novel, The Invention of Wings, was a number-one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah's Book Club 2.0. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs, including the New York Times bestseller Traveling with Pomegranates, written with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor. She lives in Florida.

Reviews

Adult/High School-Lily Owens, 14, is an emotionally abused white girl living with her cold, uncaring father on a peach farm in rural South Carolina. The memory of her mother, who was accidentally killed in Lily's presence when she was four, haunts her constantly. She has one of her mother's few possessions, a picture of a black Madonna with the words, Tiburon, South Carolina, written on the back. Lily's companion during her sad childhood has been Rosaleen, the black woman hired to care for her. Rosaleen, in a euphoric mood after the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, goes to town to register to vote and insults one of the town's most racist residents. After she is beaten up and hospitalized, Lily decides to rescue her and they go to Tiburon to search for memories of her mother. There they are taken in by three black sisters who are beekeepers producing a line of honey with the Black Madonna label. While racial tensions simmer around them, the women help Lily accept her loss and learn the power of forgiveness. There is a wonderful sense of the strength of female friendship and love throughout the story.-Penny Stevens, Andover College, Portland, ME Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Honey-sweet but never cloying, this debut by nonfiction author Kidd (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter) features a hive's worth of appealing female characters, an offbeat plot and a lovely style. It's 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act, in Sylvan, S.C. Fourteen-year-old Lily is on the lam with motherly servant Rosaleen, fleeing both Lily's abusive father T. Ray and the police who battered Rosaleen for defending her new right to vote. Lily is also fleeing memories, particularly her jumbled recollection of how, as a frightened four-year-old, she accidentally shot and killed her mother during a fight with T. Ray. Among her mother's possessions, Lily finds a picture of a black Virgin Mary with "Tiburon, S.C." on the back so, blindly, she and Rosaleen head there. It turns out that the town is headquarters of Black Madonna Honey, produced by three middle-aged black sisters, August, June and May Boatwright. The "Calendar sisters" take in the fugitives, putting Lily to work in the honey house, where for the first time in years she's happy. But August, clearly the queen bee of the Boatwrights, keeps asking Lily searching questions. Faced with so ideally maternal a figure as August, most girls would babble uncontrollably. But Lily is a budding writer, desperate to connect yet fiercely protective of her secret interior life. Kidd's success at capturing the moody adolescent girl's voice makes her ambivalence comprehensible and charming. And it's deeply satisfying when August teaches Lily to "find the mother in (herself)" a soothing lesson that should charm female readers of all ages. (Jan. 28) Forecast: Blurbs from an impressive lineup of women writers Anita Shreve, Susan Isaacs, Ursula Hegi pitch this book straight at its intended readership. It's hard to say whether confusion with the similarly titled Bee Season will hurt or help sales, but a 10-city author tour should help distinguish Kidd. Film rights have been optioned and foreign rights sold in England and France. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

In 1964 South Carolina, 14-year-old Lily is seeking to escape her abusive father through her fantasies about her deceased mother. She has few mementos of Deborah, but chief among them is a mysterious picture of a black Madonna. She runs away with her servant to Tiburon, SC, and to the Black Madonna Honey company, where middle-aged sisters May, June, and August take the two fugitives in and introduce them to the ways of beekeeping and the sisterhood of Our Lady of Chains. The predictability of the plot is well balanced by the author's descriptions and Lily's increasing struggles with the truth about her mother's past. Read by Karen White, this is a well-paced and crafted Gothic debut that mixes humor with tragedy. Highly recommended.-Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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 TodayInspiring. 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 ReviewThis 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 SiddonsThe stunning metaphors and realistic characters are so poignant they will bring tears to your eyes. --Library JournalKidd has written a triumphant coming-of-age novel that speaks to the universal need for love --New Orleans Times-PicayuneThe 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-DispatchI 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 TrollopeA wonderful novel about mothers and daughters and the transcendent power of love. --Connie May FowlerA truly original Southern voice. --Anita ShreveIt'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 WeeklyThe tale of one motherless daughter's discovery of what family really means--and of the strange and wondrous places we love. --The Washington Post

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