The Secret Life of Bees

I finished the Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd a few days ago. This atmosphere was so warm you could almost bath in it, yet not saccharine or without dark events. I was happy to linger on the page and spend time with the characters. Although I wanted the story to reach a satisfactory conclusion that seemed less important than spending time with the people and places. I really enjoyed the directness of Lily’s thinking and speaking, she felt like a kid I would like to meet. That doesn’t happen to me very often.  It was good to read a different take on the black/white relationship from the usual ones. The antagonism was there but outside the stories of the main characters. I also found it startling to think that although the background to this story feels like ancient history, it all happened during my lifetime. Although there have been massive changes in the relationships between ethnic groups, we clearly still have a long way to go.

In our discussion group the story provoked a great deal of reminiscence about badgers, hedgehogs, etc. The bees play such a central part in the story that they made us all think about our connections with local wildlife, though I admit that I found this concentration on the backcloth rather than the story a little disconcerting.

writer’s balancing act

A rejection yesterday; today a request to discuss my first novel, A Small Rain (out of print), with a book group. In yesterday’s paper a brief article by a literary agent complaining about capricious, deadline missing, needy, rude authors. I want to put my hand in the air and shout, “Please Miss, please Miss, take me instead. I work happily to deadline’s, I don’t do rude, or writer’s block and…” but she’s not listening.

However many books I finish, I always seem to be reading three more. Current trio are Kate Atkinson’s One Good Turn, James Shapiro’s Contested Will (good scholarly look at the history of Shakespeare doubters) and Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees.

Warm, sunny, windy spring day. Gardened to exhaustion.