The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

37435You’ve read The Secret Life of Bees, I’m sure. Your mom read it. Your cousin read it. And now, I have read it. Finally, geez. So what took me so long? Fear of the hype monster and my fear of bad Southern Lit.

Do you need a synopsis? No. If you do, Goodreads is your friend.

Overall, I really enjoyed Sue Monk Kidd’s first offering. She got all the southern bits spot on, in my very humble opinion. Her female characters are marvelous, particularly the Boathouse sisters. The dialogue isn’t bogged down with a bad southern accent and there are recognizable southern stereotypes and tropes that grow up to be more than a two dimensional tragic mess. I’d definitely read more of Kidd’s work and look forward to her new novel releasing in January.

That’s not to say this book is perfect. It isn’t. The male characters are not drawn that well or full-bodied enough. Especially Lily’s father. He could have had a much more layered complexity but comes off as hardly more than a cardboard villain. The overall plot is also a bit cutesy and lacks a certain punch or depth that I would have liked. However, these flaws aside I really enjoyed my time with this book. It had a magical sort of aura that was enchanting.

What is it about Southern novels and female characters with a mystical presence? So many novels that take place in the South have a magical realism or just full on magical plotline somewhere – especially concerning the females. Even if the magical part isn’t overt – there are magical themes and overtones. Very interesting. I suspect some of this is due to the religious and spiritual nature of many of the cultures found in the South – like voodoo. Or even the hauntedness of our houses – hehe. We have lots of haunted houses – all gothic and amazing. Wow, I’ve digressed.

Anyway, have y’all read The Secret Life of Bees? What about Kidd’s second novel? Have you noticed the magicality of Southern Literature or am I just being absurd?

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14 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

    • That’s one of the reasons I started blogging about books – to help me keep a hold of the stories longer. The books pre-blog are a blur unless they were assigned reading.

    • I can see how one would feel this way, but having grown up in a similar area, I recognized the female bonding as a very real thing down here in the Southern US. I do think her novel suffers greatly from not having better male characters.

  1. “lacks a certain punch or depth that I would have liked”

    That pretty much sums it up. I thought it was good, but not great. I never went out of my way to recommend it to others after I read it.

    I have read The Mermaid Chair by her, and I thought it was MUCH better. I know I’m in the minority in preferring it to TSLoB, but it’s one I would happily re-read. The ending wasn’t perfect, but the story was just much more interesting, at least to me. I hope you get to try it! And I’m kind of excited she has a new novel coming out, I didn’t know that.

    • It’s so interesting that you preferred The Mermaid Chair as so many others didn’t like her second novel nearly as much. Definitely want to give it a go!

  2. Hey there 🙂
    I have to write about the secret life of bees for school and I wanted to ask you:
    do you think that the novel is realistic ?

  3. Pingback: Book Review – The Secret Life of Bees – 2 1/2 stars | strivetoengage

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