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Tell it to the Bees

by Fiona Shaw

A beautifully poetic and descriptive portrait of life in a small-minded town in 50s. It tells the story of a young mother who is struggling to keep her world together after the bitter collapse of her marriage, and the consequences of her growing love for another woman. I found this compulsive story of love that transgresses both sex and class both uplifting and liberating. I desperately longed for a happy ending for all involved.

Extract

She gave him a notebook with a red cover and a leather loop to hold the slender pencil.
'Might be useful', she said.
He wrote down that a slice of onion was good for bee stings. He wrote down that bee stings were good for arthritis. He wrote down that honey was heavier than water. He wrote down that you could talk to the bees and tell them about important things. But you must do it quietly, else they might fly away.

Before he left that day, Charlie ran back to where the hives stood. The doctor hadn’t told him how he should speak and he wasn’t sure how near to be, or what he should say. So in the end he stood at one side and put his head close, as if listening at a door. Covering his mouth with his hand, he told the bees he would be back next weekend and that he was glad now about the fight at school. Then, very quietly, he told them that his mum was sad but he didn’t know why.

Parallels

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
 

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