The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
I was recommended this book by my Mum, after she too read The Help and loved it. It is set in the American South in the 60s, and like The Help, is based around the theme of Civil Rights and the unrest surrounding (in)equality between Black and White. Again, like The Help, it has been adapted into a film which I am yet to watch.
Now, I know I keep mentioning The Help. I read it early last year and absolutely loved it - best book I've ever read! The film was also amazing, such a great adaptation of the novel with great casting. I think because I loved The Help so much, I had high hopes for The Secret Life of Bees. Now I'm not saying I was disappointed - it is a lovely read with an interesting ending - but perhaps a little more slow-paced than I would like.
A brief synopsis: Lily is a 14 year old girl who is haunted by the death of her mother. T.Ray is not a particularly loving father, in fact he is abusive, and after a huge argument T.Ray tells Lily she caused her mother's death. This sends Lily into a spin and she decides she has to get away from T.Ray - so she accompanies her Black maid, Rosaleen, to register to vote. Rosaleen gets into some trouble with the local White men which ends up with herself and Lily being arrested. Rosaleen is brutally assaulted. Lily decides now is the time for her and Rosaleen to disappear, and they begin the journey to Tiburon to find out more about Lily's mother. They stay with the Boatwrights - August, June and May - three Black sisters who take in Lily and Rosaleen with open arms. Now this is completely unconventional and socially unacceptable; a white girl to be living alone with four Black women, but Lily settles into life learning about bee-keeping (they own a bee farm) and the Black Madonna honey they produce. The story is based around her relationship with the sisters and finding out more about her mother, alongside a backdrop of civil rights struggles.
I did enjoy this book - it is well written, kind, warm and interesting. It isn't particularly fast paced, but tells a nice story with several twists and turns. I personally find the historical element of Black civil rights really interesting, which is what drew me to the book initially. Can anyone recommend any books on a similar theme, or from a different angle? Fiction or non fiction!