I was recently recommended this book, so quickly ordered a copy, eager to see what lay within. This is a very moving story, set in South Carolina in the mid 1960s. Our protagonist is 14 year-old Lily Owens, who has grown up living with her mean father and black maid, Rosaleen, since her mother’s death ten years ago.  Her father will not speak of Lily’s mother or of her death, but in her memory Lily remembers that on the day of her death, her mother and father were fighting, that a gun fell to the floor, that she picked up the gun, and that at some point the gun went off, killing her mother. Not surprisingly, Lily is haunted by the fragmented memory of this incident.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Around this time, the Civil Rights Act is introduced, and Lily decides to accompany Rosaleen on her trip into town to register to vote. However, when Rosaleen gets into a confrontation with three local white men, things start to spiral into confusion, violence and ever greater danger. As a result the two end up on the run, guided only by a name scribbled on the back of a picture which used to belong to Lily’s mother. This journey takes them into the arms of the Boatwright sisters, three black spinsters who produce honey, play host to a local community of wonderful eccentrics (the Daughters of Mary) and provide Lily with a new way of looking at the world.

A very human, moving, tough, inspiring and spiritual novel.

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