Melton Reading Group Book Reviews
Opinions varied from a light holiday read, to a profound and wonderful novel. We were aware of the Christian and Jungian influences for the author. We felt that the bees were a collective consciousness, and that August, the substitute mother of the 14 year old Lily, was the queen bee.
Sue Monk Kidd did balance the evocative tale of loss, belonging, self discovery, rejection etc well, against the background of racial tension. There were some memorable lines, though also elements of unbelievability, e.g. Lily's part in her mother's death; also the coincidence of the beekeeper's past involvement with Lily's mother seemed contrived.
All did agree though, that this was pretty good for a first novel and worth a read, if not a glowing recommendation (the fact that this book has sold millions of copies was probably down to good marketing, word of mouth for a pleasant undemanding read, and followers from the author's earlier christian books).
Maggie'O'Farrell's novel doesn't do what it says on the cover! She is good at the complex nature of sisterhood between Nina and Stella, but otherwise this "love story about two people who have never met" disappoints.
The cleverness of her shifts in time, venue, character and tense was wasted by overuse. Momentum is lost and the reader's interest is disrupted, so irritation sets in. As usual, the novel looked at issues of alienation, identity and secret family baggage. This was a page turner for those, who survived the first 200 pages, more to get to the end (which we all managed) than to see what happened next; though the reward was some improvement in the latter stages.
The plot and narrative lacked the tautness of her earlier novels and the characters felt a little stereotypical (at some points, Mills and Boon came to mind). Much was introduced, but little developed, e.g Jake seemed to have little sustained interest in his father, and we failed to see the significance of the curious incident of the bat in the commuter time. The earlier books (although they tend to fade) were preferred.
Perhaps her 4th book will better consolidate her talents. Meanwhile we won''t be recommending this one, which most of us found hard going withoiut anything new to say."
"A multi-layered novel, detailing the Irish Potato Famine and the emigration to America. The ship contains a microcosm of Irish society at the time, but the characters do have depth and we learn about their backgrounds and connections. Love, dignity, murder and good works all play a part against the political backdrop. The quality of the vivid and descriptive writing is the book's greatest strength; this holds the reader through what is otherwise, grim material. The clumsy attempts at literary levity do not succeed. However, the Dickensian style, with engravings and journal entries is engaging. The book is also a well-paced thriller; some reviewers found the ending rushed, but we felt it was satisfactory. Well worth a read".
Page Last Updated: 11 October 2010