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The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd

Lily has grown up believing she accidentally killed her mother when she was four. She not only has her own memory of holding the gun, but her father’s account of the event.

Now fourteen, she yearns for her mother, and for forgiveness. Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her father, she has only one friend: Rosaleen, a black servant whose sharp exterior hides a tender heart. South Carolina in the sixties is a place where segregation is still considered a cause worth fighting for. When racial tension explodes one summer afternoon, and Rosaleen is arrested and beaten, Lily is compelled to act. Fugitives from justice and from Lily’s harsh and unyielding father, they follow a trail left by the woman who died ten years before.

Finding sanctuary in the home of three beekeeping sisters, Lily starts a journey as much about her understanding of the world, as about the mystery surrounding her mother.


“A dazzling fictional debut….The Secret Life of Bees is storytelling at its finest and the end result is something quite extraordinary.”  Bookpage Magazine

“Inspiring. Sue Monk Kidd is a direct literary descendent of Carson McCullers.”  The Baltimore Sun

“The stunning metaphors and realistic characters… (of) this sweeping debut novel are so poignant that they will bring tears to your eyes.”  Library Journal

“ A radiant first novel.”  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Maybe it’s true that there are no perfect books, but I closed this one believing that I had found perfection.”  Book Magazine

“A truly original Southern voice.”  Anita Shreve

“Populated with rich, believable characters and propelled by a swiftly paced plot, this debut novel is a cut above most coming-of-age tales. You’ll be glad you went along for the ride.”  People Magazine

“Charming, funny, moving.”  The London Times

“The core of this story is Lily’s search for a mother, and she finds one in a place she never expected. She finds her Madonna in a woman named August Boatwright, the proprietor of a honey farm that’s a harbor of quiet civility. August and her sisters, June and May, are no mere vehicles for Lily’s salvation; they are individuals as fully imagined as the sweltering, kudzu-carpeted landscape that surrounds them.”  New York Times Book Review

“You’ll want to tear through the pages. Restrain yourself. The beautiful language and seamless unfolding of this well-written story deserve more. (It) merits sweet time and savoring.”  Southern Living

“A triumphant coming-of-age novel that speaks to the universal need for love.”  New Orleans Times-Picayune

“I am amazed that this moving, original, and accomplished book is a first novel. It is wonderfully written, powerful, poignant, and humorous.”  Joanna Trollope

“A hive’s worth of appealing female characters, an off-beat plot and a lovely style… Deeply satisfying.”  Publishers Weekly

“A moving first novel… Lily is an authentic and winning character and her story is compellingly told.”  USA Today

“An absolute joy to read.”  Time Out New York

“Lovely writing and kind, vivid characters….Kidd dips a honeyed ladle into lessons of inequality, empowerment, and the healing nature of love and forgiveness.”  Entertainment Weekly

“Riveting. One of the most inventive books I have read in long time, and utterly compelling. This book demands to be read and read again.”  The Oxford Times

“A charmer… Richly descriptive and enthralling.”  The Globe and Mail 

“Sue Monk Kidd is an extraordinary storyteller… Beautifully written.”  Ursula Hegi

“A warm debut. An uplifting story.”  Booklist




Book Club Notes
10 October, 2002

About Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd is the author of the highly acclaimed bestsellers The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair. Selling over 8 million copies, The Secret Life of Bees was her first novel, and has become a modern classic. It has been adapted into a feature film starring Queen Latifah, Dakota Fanning and Jennifer Hudson.


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