Friday, 19 August 2011
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
I wanted to love this book. I thought the topic was interesting, and the real strength of the book was the way that I got such a sense of time and place. Sue Monk Kidd really bought alive the South of the time; the suffocating heat and tense atmosphere. Maybe it's because I read it whilst being in the South myself (now in Atlanta!), but I felt as though I was right there with Lily. Lily was a good protagonist too - her mood swings and rushes of emotion were consistent with what I can remember of being a teenager.
But I couldn't love this book. The main problem was that it was too sweet and saccharine. I know it's written to be 'dreamy', and maybe it's my stiff-upper-lip Britishness coming out, but there was too much sentimentality for me. There was too much discussion of empowering your spirit and being a strong woman for me. I agree with all of the sentiments, and thought August was a wonderful character, it was just a bit much for me. I also found it hard to believe that everything would have worked out as well as it did, especially the resolution with Lily's father at the end.
I did enjoy the book and it was hard to put down, but it's not one I would pick up again.
Verdict: Evocative descriptions of the South of the 1960s but a bit sickly sweet.
Score: 3.5 out of 5