Book Club: Let's discuss THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by kholmes, Nov 24, 2006.

  1. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    So what did you think?

    I thought the story was compelling and the book beautifully written, though I found the bee and black Madonna symbolism a bit heavy handed. I was afraid that the novel would be male-bashing (Although I love Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club, most men in that novel are either downright evil or weak and ineffectual). But then I encountered Zach and the lawyer, two interesting male characters. I thought Kidd captured the time period, the struggle for civil rights, and Lily's coming-of-age beautifully.

    My library copy even came with discussion questions for us!

    Here are some I found interesting:

    "May built a wailing wall to help her to come to terms with the pain she felt. Even though we don't have May's condition, do we also need rituals, like wailing walls, to help us deal with our grief and suffering?"

    "What compelled Rosaleen to spit on the three men's shoes?"
    "What does it take for a person to stand up with conviction against brutalizing injustice?"

    Here's another question. A friend of mine was recently aruging that of all human hurts, abandonment is the worst. Do you agree?

    Feel free to discuss these or whatever you like about the novel!

    [This Message was Edited on 11/24/2006]
  2. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    I thought the book was good. I'd give it a 7 on a scale of 1 - 10 only because, as Ken said, I though the black Madonna was a bit much and not that helpful to the storyline.

    As far as the questions go:

    1. I liked May's wailing wall idea and thought how it would help all of us. Of course most of the slips of paper would say CFS/FM...

    2. Rosealeen spit on three men's shoes because that's how many men made her angry enough to spit on. Or perhaps I missed a deeper meaning. ;>)

    3. Guts, and an overabundance of injustice.

    4. Abandonment is surely right up there. There are many kinds of abandonment. We may tend to think of it in relation to another person, however, we've been abandoned by our good health. I think it's also very painful to lose the ability to feel useful in the world or to lose our sense of self. Would this also be due to abandonment by our health? Can health abandon?


  3. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    Ken, I listened to this on CD's whilst travelling up to Canada. The narrator had a great voice. I really liked the book which I thought was about not only having a matriarchial theme but also about acceptance.

    I thought that May had autism, so this interested me too.

    I also liked the characters, but wonder about the likelihood of such racial harmony in real life, though it would be nice!!!

    I liked the book and was glad I heard about it through this club as I probably would not have read it so thank you.

    Love Annie Cromwell

  4. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Martha: Loved your thoughts on #4. I think with CFS or Fibro, we do feel a sense of abandonment, by health, vitality, friends, or by a productive life. I think it's something we all struggle with.

    Anne: Interesting thought about May being autistic. I wondered why she felt so terribly empathetic about others, especially with bad news.


  5. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Funniest thing. I picked up three books in a row, including Secret Bees, that had abused children, murdered children, etc.

    Couldn't read any of them.

    Re: abandonment, I would think it is the most in the experience of the speaker. You could certainly make an argument for slavery, betrayal, torture, etc.

    You ever notice when celebrities are spokespersons for a disease, cause, etc., it is usually the one that hit their family?
  6. Shannonsparkles

    Shannonsparkles New Member

    It was okay.

    What I liked was the peacful time in the middle of the book where the girl (I forget her name) was allowed to rest and hide out in safety.

    I suppose the message of the book is that femmininity is a powerful force that connects all women?

    I didn't really believe the ending, that T Ray would let the girl go so easilly. He's so used to having her as a doormat that I think it would have hurt his pride to let her go. He just seems to think of her as a thing he owns. So I didn't believe that he would want what's best for her and let her go.

  7. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Shannon: I think you're absolutely right about the ending, too. It's hard to imagine T Ray letting Lily go so easily. His pride would be too big a barrier, I think.

    Spacee: I liked your take on the black Madonna and Catholic ritual. That was very interesting.
    It's also neat that you're the same age as Lily and lived in the south. Did the book capture the feeling of that time accurately?

    Here are some more questions: What do you think Lily would be doing now? Is she still in North Carolina? What became of May, August, Rosaleen, Zach, and T Ray?

    [This Message was Edited on 11/27/2006]
  8. Shannonsparkles

    Shannonsparkles New Member

    T Ray continued to moon the world via the peach sign, until dying of bitterness at age 52.
    [This Message was Edited on 11/28/2006]
  9. Shannonsparkles

    Shannonsparkles New Member

    ... but this book got me interested in bees. I've gotten into some non-fiction about bees, beekeeping and honey.
  10. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Shannon: Funny prediction about T Ray!

    Spacee: I don't know what you're apologizing for. Your comments were very interesting and thoughtful! Thanks for sharing about your childhood, too. Do you have any other memories of the civil rights turbulence in the mid sixties?

    A KKK rally near Disney World 19 years ago? Wow. Actually, the KKK still has rallies in downtown Denver (Denver?!) every once in a while. We live in a strange world.