Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees follows the story of 14-year-old Lily Owens. She is mistreated by her father, T. Ray; haunted by the memories of her mother’s death; and only loved by her nanny Rosaleen. Everything changes when Rosaleen insults the three biggest racists in their little town. Lily breaks Rosaleen out of jail and heads for Tilbourn, South Carolina on just a small hint that her mother may have once been there.
I really enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees; the story was interesting, the characters were compelling. You can definitely see how it would make a good film as the action is very straight forward and almost a little flat. That’s not to say it was boring, it was just the same direction all the time; no major “problem” for our protagonist or “inciting incidents” that help the story reach a climax.
I really enjoyed the variety of characters and I think that was the highlight of the book. Lily was a typical 14-year-old: insecure, self-conscious, and wanting something special to call her own. August Boatwright, who Lily finds in Tilbourn, becomes her mentor and confident. Rosaleen is unforgiving, bold, and sometimes brash. August is a confident woman with the makings of a fantastic, loving, caring “Aunt August”. August’s sisters June and May each have their own quirks and quarrels which keeps them interesting. They are certainly vivid characters with personality and life of their own; definitely my favourite part of the book was learning more about each of the women.
I would definitely recommend this book for an easy and enjoyable read. I think I’ll lend it to my mother next… and keep your eyes peeled as Julia is currently reading it too! Now, to rent the movie and compare/contrast!