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, 1851. 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 honour and fame.
United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper and fights 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—and is kept in the dark about his whereabouts and condition—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 relationships between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.
My reading experience:
The story begins in 2098. The bees have long gone. We are introduced to Tao 2098, George 2007 and William 1851, and in some ways their lives are all connected to bees. At first I wasn’t sure if the author was giving me enough literary tools to place myself in each era – speech, description, writing style, and also the fact that there were 3 different years (obviously past, present, future). I found it slightly overwhelming trying to assimilate each one at the same time. However, this is soon rectified as you become immersed in the converging stories., I certainly found that I was engrossed well before I was half way through and compelled thereafter as the stories converge into moments of enlightenment.
This is an interesting twist on an apocalyptic tale – it’s connection to an eco system and in particular the bees and pollination. This dystopian story shows us their importance and the impact of losing what is often looked at, as a small insignificant creature in our world.
Themes: dystopian future, bees, pollination, persistence, family, importance of research, eco system, history
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This book was given to me free via Netgalley and I would like to thank Maja and Simon and Schuster UK. I have given this a 4* review on Goodreads.