A most delightful read

It’s been one of those months – you know the sort – where you’ve got a job to finish and it takes up all you time and all your energy and all the room you have in your head. But I’ve finally got through it (mostly) and I can now tick off a job I’ve been meaning to do since before Christmas.

I wanted to share with you my thoughts on Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees. I remember trying to read it when it first became available and not being able to. A friend then loaned me her copy last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Anyway, I wrote some notes in my journal last December and I’ve finally found the energy to type them up. If you’ve read the book please share your thoughts in the comments.


The Secret Life of BeesThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From my Journal Friday 5th December 2014

I have been wondering what it is about this book that has kept me reading to (almost) the end. Riffling through the pages last night I thought, “I could really stop now [50 pages to go] and I already have in my possession what it is that this book offers.” Why was I thinking this? Why did I keep reading?

So I slept on those thoughts and this morning I have my answer. There is certainly violence and hate and loss and death within the pages. But unlike most books, particularly genre fiction, which use these to overtly propel their stories forward (there is no plot without conflict we are told), Secret Life of Bees uses something else, and it is that something that I’ve been looking for in books for a long time. The core of this book, the thing that moves these characters to act and grow is love. While the horrors of life are happening to the characters, Kidd does not elevate the events to centre stage and have us weeping and wailing and biting our nails wondering what disaster will happen next. Instead, these events happen, like a train stopping at a country station, then quietly pulling away again. I believe she is showing us what a family full of love can do for us – it can quietly and gently enfold us and draw us away from the horrors which happen to us all.

Sure there’s a place for escapist stories and perhaps all stories are escapist in the end. But, it has been and absolute joy to have the motivating emotions loving and joyful rather than dark and frightening or even worrying. Like the bees themselves we do what we have to in this life and when we have a hive to return to, one that is so nurtured that it is full and overflowing with sweetness, then we have the strength to continue.

5 Stars

PS Please don’t ruin the book with lesson plans!

End of Journal entry

You thoughts about the book? Do you think you might give it a go?

The Search for Atlantis | Eternal Atlantis

A “Press This” Share – you’ll find the link below.

I’ve had a long-term interest in Classical History – since my days as an undergraduate, so I’m sharing with you an excerpt from a recent post by Luciana Cavallaro. She describes herself as an “historical fiction fantasist” and her stories draw on classical myths and legends. This blog post of hers contains a collection of documentaries and her thoughts about Atlantis – especially its location.

If you’ve only got time to watch one I recommend the first video with Bettany Hughes.

Plato’s Atlantis was the precursor to his epic and quantifiable exposition The Republic, a discourse on the ideal society. How government should run, the election of public servants, the laws and the behaviour of its citizens—men. Women were mentioned but weren’t considered as major players in workings of the social order. So was Plato writing about a civilisation that once existed or did he make it all up to create a moralistic story? It is this driving quest that has stirred the imaginations of storytellers and historians for hundreds of years. Was Atlantis a real place?

The Search for Atlantis | Eternal Atlantis.


Book Review–Bay of Fires–Poppy Gee

What I liked about this story was that the solving of the mystery, while central to the characters’ behaviour, ultimately plays second fiddle to the interactions between the characters themselves. This could be the reason why I’m not all that fond of plot driven mystery stories – there’s enough of that on T.V. for me to feel sated with murder and mayhem without reading about it, too.

There was a moment early in the book where I almost abandoned it – much like driving for hours to a campsite to arrive late in the afternoon in a place full of people you’re not too sure about. Well, metaphorically I parked the car, put up the tent and continued to read. I’m glad I persevered because I came to know these people (characters) and appreciate their perspectives, even if in the end I could not like them.

The language and style, like the landscape in which the story takes place, is deceptively simple, and this makes the story easy to read. On the surface the words and the story carried me from one plot point to the next, but underneath, like the undertows and currents of the ocean, I was caught in the depths of what can’t be seen, in what is not said – the hints and eddies of life itself. Fantastic.

Bay of Fires brought to a head a thought that I’ve been pondering for a while. Is there something about the literature of your own region or country that resonates more than does the literature from elsewhere?

Poppy Gee’s evocation of the rather remote landscape of the Bay of Fires region of Tasmania speaks to me profoundly, something that I’ve rarely experienced in stories from places I’ve never been. Richard Flanagan, Peter Carey, Nevil Shute and even Tansy Rayner Roberts’ fun paranormal take on Hobart also have this effect. Most of the books I’ve read have been either British or American and the only author I can think of (off the top of my head) who came close to this for me was Hemingway.

For the duration of Bay of Fires I was living there with all my senses – not just watching the story happen to other people – walking the beaches, smelling the surf and the tip, stomping through the thick grass wary of snakes, paddling the lagoon, smelling the bushfire and breathing in the heat. Was this simply because I’ve done all those things? Been to places like those? Because I’m Australian? Can Jane Austen be read with anything more than an intellectual appreciation by someone who’s never been to England? I don’t know.

Whatever the reason Bay of Fires has converted me. I find myself wanting to seek out more Australian literature, and not just to satisfy the goals of the various challenges I’ve set myself this year.

So, what do you think? Does regionalism have any effect on your appreciation of the books you read?