Media Maven: “The Secret Life of Bees” Book Review

Media Maven: “The Secret Life of Bees” Book Review

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If you have only time to read one novel by the end of this year, make it Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees. If you can’t manage to read this book before 2008 exits — then begin the New Year with this novel that will forever touch your heart.


Ordinarily, I review movies and I promise a review of the movie “The Secret Life of Bees” to be forthcoming. If anything, reading this book may inspire Cincy Chic readers to join a book club or begin one. I belong to a club and I would like to share with you what it means to me:


“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
– Proverbs 16:24 NIV


My book group is made up of women who have all become friends through the gift of reading. It is the gift of shared experiences as discovered through an author’s story.


It is sharing the commonalities and the absurdities of life.


It is the discovery that literature and life are not such a mystery. It is admitting that life and literature, perhaps, mirrors the yearnings, the excitement, boredom, sorrow and humor of our everyday lives.


It is the coming together at our book group to relax, read an eclectic variety of novels and savor the time spent together.


Kidd’s writing in The Secret Life of Bees was sweeter than the purest honey. It was poetically poignant.


Her writing evokes the feeling you hold in your heart when both pain and happiness become so intermingled that you become overwhelmed with the beauty of it all. The power of her story and the eloquence of her writing‚ “Were as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”


Kidd first wrote a short story that was the basis for the novel and film. The story begins in 1964 in South Carolina telling the tale of a young girl who is an orphan in her own home. Lily Owens lives under the peremptorily tyranny of her father, T. Ray Owens. At a very young age, she witnessed the accidental death of her mother who was trying to escape an unfulfilled marriage.


In the blurred memory of a four-year-old girl, Owens grows up in a home where she is met with indifference and animosity by a father who sees her as a constant reminder of the wife who died and left Lily in his care. Having no ability to nurture Lily, T Ray hires one of his peach pickers form his orchard. Her name is Rosaleen, “She had a big round face and a body that sloped out from her neck like a pup tent‚ Rosaleen had never had a child herself, so for the last ten years I was her guinea pig.”


It is July 2, 1964 and the president of the United States signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Rosaleen declares to Lily, “For the fourth of July they’re holding a voters’ rally at the church. I’m registering myself to vote.”


Thus begins one of many journeys these characters travel to discover freedom and lives of significance and value. In a neighboring town Lily and Rosaleen escape to an unexpected safe haven. It is embodied with fiercely independent women known as the Boatwright Sisters.


In The Secret Life of Bees, Kidd brings to life the beauty and magnitude of women’s relationship of candor, compassion, loyalty and strength.


Reading the novel and then seeing the big screen rendition will only enrich the beauty of this experience.


Chic Stars: Five Chic Stars


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