You’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?