Friday, February 07, 2014

Review: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (audio)

Title: The Secret Life of Bees   
Author: Sue Monk Kidd  
Narrator: Jenna Lamia  
Published: 2002, Penguin Audio  
Length: 10 Hours  
Source: Personal copy 

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

My thoughts: Back in January, I had the opportunity to go see Sue Monk Kidd while she was on tour promoting her newest book, The Invention of Wings. I picked up a copy of that book (and got it signed!!!), but had never read any of her previous books. When at the bookstore picking up some gifts for my niece and nephew, I saw the audio of The Secret Life of Bees at the counter and decided to pick it up and am so glad I did...I loved it!!!

While I loved all the characters in this book, some more than others, I found the bee lore that Sue Monk Kidd interjected at the beginning of each chapter to be quite fascinating. This really added to enhance the overall enjoyment of the story. And then the characters themselves...I absolutely fell in love with Lily. I found her quite endearing at times and just wanted her to find the answers she so desperately wanted to know.

I also loved the three sisters - each was so different and played a unique role in Lily's life, along with Rosaleen, her caretaker. Each of these four women had their own strengths and taught Lily lessons that help make her a stronger person. They all show Lily that blood doesn't make a family, love and friendship also can make a family. There are so many lessons to be gleaned from this book, so many topics that Sue Monk Kidd touches upon and this is just one.

This is the type of book that stays with you long after you finish the book. The lyrical writing, the characters, the setting all combine to create such a powerful story. This is definitely a keeper - one to cherish and even reread a few times. I think I will be picking up a copy of the print edition to keep on my shelf!

Audio Thoughts: This is the first time I've listened to anything narrated by Jenna Lamia and I loved listening to her voice. She just seemed to perfectly personify Lily - giving her life and her own personality. Jenna really made this book come alive - I think between Sue Monk Kidd's writing and Jenna's ability to narrate this audio really was a homerun and I look forward to listening to more of Jenna's work.

*** Devourer of Books hosts Sound Bytes  - a monthly link-up to share the audio books that everyone is listening to. Stop by and you just might find your next audio book!


  1. I read this a few years ago. I wasn't as impressed as you were. I thought the chracters were silly. I wrote a review of this, and that would help my memory so I could tell you what I felt was silly, but it's gone. I remember thinking it ridiculous that a young white girl acted oolder and smarter than the black woman.

  2. I wasn't so impressed with the book either. Although I wouldn't go as far to say I thought the characters silly. I gave it 3*.


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