In the spirit of Station Eleven and Never Let Me Go, this dazzling and ambitious literary debut follows three generations of beekeepers from the past, present, and future, weaving a spellbinding story of their relationship to the bees and to their children and one another against the backdrop of an urgent, global crisis.
England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive one that will give both him and his children honor and fame.
United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming but hopes that his son can be their salvation.
China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao’s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out on a grueling journey to find out what happened to him.
Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, The History of Bees joins these three very different narratives into one gripping and thought-provoking story that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.
I was really excited to read this book when I won it in a giveaway. It sounded like it was going to be a super interesting historical fiction read and that genre is one that always tends to keep my interest. I was also hoping that this book would teach me a lot more about bees and their disappearances (a phenomenon happening in our world today).
Both of those things turned out to be true, but not quite in the way that I had expected.
The book was an interesting historical read, however, it was just too slow for me. At the time that I read this, I think that I needed something a bit more fast-paced considering I just finished up reading a lot of textbooks at University. I found myself not wanting to pick it up, not because the story or writing wasn’t good, but because it wasn’t the pace that I wanted to be reading. This is one of the main reasons that the book got a 3 out of 5 stars from me.
Nonetheless, the story taught me a lot about bees and was a really creative take on the past, present, and future relationship between bees and humans. I loved that the story was told from three different perspectives and I think that is what made it work. Maja would not have been able to tell the whole story without the three different time periods.
The characters in this book were all parents and the story centered very strongly on their relationships with their kids. For this reason, it was hard for me to connect strongly with their narratives because I have never been a parent. I’m not saying that they weren’t at all relatable, but I do think that this story might resonate stronger with parents and people who know what it feels like to have a strong relationship with a child.
Lastly, I would like to say that the ending of this book was very beautiful. All three narratives were tied together quite nicely.
If you are at all interested in reading this, I don’t want to discourage you from picking it up. However, you should know whether or not you are truly interested in the story and be aware that it can get slow at times. Overall, it’s a pretty informative read.