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The Secret Life of Bees

I’m not sure how a book that was published almost two years ago wound up #35 on Amazon’s best-seller list, but I guess it’s that sort of Oprah book that is all the rage among people who buy huge quantities of books. If you like those sort of heartwarming “person who has had it very rough finds comfort in a place she would have never expected” books, this is really a great example of it. Lily is a girl who grows up practically motherless in a house ruled by a tyrannical angry Dad. Her only real companion is her housekeeper. Long story short, they run away, take up with a houseful of eccentric black women and learn the art of beekeeping. This all takes place in the mid-sixties South when race relations are particularly problematic. Lily is white, the houseful of women are all black.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like this book, I did, it’s just that it seemed like a familiar theme with all the parts you expected [a forbidden love, an ugly duckling turned beautiful, an evil patriarch or two, the eccentric house on the hill] and nothing else. Kidd is a great writer and if you haven’t read a slough of beekeeping books, there will probably be enough honey imagery to keep you interested even if the familiar storyline doesn’t captivate.