Monday, March 28, 2005

On finishing The Secret Life of Bees

Well, I finished The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Iliana, from BookGirl's Nightstand, put it best in an email to me -- this novel would have been the perfect Oprah's Book Club pick: a quirky story about a downtrodden but spunky girl who finds love, acceptance, and a stronger sense of self within a community of independent older women. I did get involved in the story, mainly because I wanted to find out who Lily's mom really was and what actually happened to her (and no, the husband didn't kill her and blame the kid, like I expected).

The Secret Life of Bees also has some good lines -- for example, when Lily (the 14-year-old white narrator) finds out the reason her mother married her father:

"You think you want to know something, and then once you do, all you can think of s erasing it from your mind. From now on when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I planned to say, Amnesiac." (p.249)

Or when Lily, the Calendar Sisters, and the Daughters of Mary are celebrating Mary Day by ritually feeding each other bits of honey cake:

"I did not know one thing, really, about the Catholic Church, but somehow I felt sure the pope would have keeled over if he'd seen this. Not Brother Gerald, though. He wouldn't have wasted time fainting, just gotten busy arranging the exorcism." (p.226)

Still, I'm not enthralled by the setting -- small town (Southern) USA in 1964-- or by the overall tone of the novel, which I found a little too quaint and at times even a bit maudlin.

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