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Book Review - The History of Bees: A Novel

November 2, 2017

 

This story, The History of Bees, is actually three stories, in three different eras, linked through the bee. 

 

We start in the future, ‘District 242, Shirong, Sichuan, 2098’, with Tao. Though a wife and a mother her main occupation is doing the flower pollination of the worker bee. It is painstaking and monotonous work. And if it's not done properly she will not get paid and her family will not eat. But there are no longer any Bees to do the work so there wouldn't be any food at all if there weren't workers like Tao and her husband. 

 

But Tao doesn't want her son to end up in this lowly, menial job too. She once showed promise at school and is doing her utmost to educate her son in the little time she has with him in the evenings.

 

In Maryville, Hertfordshire, England in 1851 we meet William who is in a deep depression. He was never able to please his father, and was devastated when his beloved mentor rejected him, hence his current depression. His hopes of working with Bees are renewed however, when his own son leaves a book for him to read. It gives him the impetus to get out of bed and back into life. 

 

Then we meet George in 2007. He is a beekeeper with a small farm but big dreams in Autumn Hill, Ohio, in the United States. He and his wife scrimped and saved for their son to go to college. George wanted him to learn about business, how to run a successful business and to come home with that knowledge so that he could take the farm to the next level. But things aren't working out that way and something's going wrong with the bees. 

 

The overall story is just as much about the parent child relationship as it is about connections. There is a connection through Bees, and with the Bees, through time. I was reminded about how interconnected we all are and no matter the age or place how much we all really want the same basic things for our families and ourselves. The story also gives us a possible view into our future if we don't do something now to help save the Bees. It’s pretty grim.

 

The book is well written and the stories are intermingled. But, oh my gosh, it's sad. Everything about this book from beginning to end feels depressing to me. Which is kind of ironic since the very last word in the book is 'Hope'. It is a well-crafted story and worth reading but be prepared - it's not a feel good story. Here's the link.

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