I couldn’t help being reminded of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn while reading The Secret Life of Bees. It is the story of a poor, ignorant white girl and how her world view is changed by her black companion. Our hero is young and ignorant, which may be why this is The Secret Life of Bees instead of The Secret Lives of Bees.
Set in the South in the early 1960s the story is about race, ignorance, hatred, and features the usual cast of bigoted white redneck men and noble well-educated black women. As in Dances With Wolves, our hero is the only sane white person in the story. Not that there is a lot of sanity floating around anywhere in The Secret Life of Bees, madness seems to be in the air along with the bees.
I love the name Black Madonna Honey. I like the rhythm that The Secret Life of Bees has. Each chapter starts with a little quote about bees and there is constant chatter about the wondrous properties of honey. I like Fireweed Honey myself. While not really a book about bees, there is a lot of bee talk sprinkled throughout the story. This was a very good book.
Sue Monk Kidd’s website has a list of actors for the movie. I think Dakota Fanning as Lily Owens is good choice. I think Jennifer Hudson is a little too pretty to play Rosaleen, but then, they seldom make the characters in movies look like the characters in the books. The beekeeping sisters are played by Queen Latifah (August), Alicia Keys (June) and Sophie Okonedo (May). I think Queen Latifah is the wrong type for the role of August-she really doesn’t strike me as the wise old mother earth type that August was in the book. Paul Bettany seems a the right type to play Lily’s slightly mad, peach farmer father T. Ray. Tristan Wilds (Zach), Derek Luke (Neil) and Hilarie Burton (Deborah) all look good.
If you don’t want to wait for the movie, The Secret Life of Bees is a good read.