Tawney Twin here and it’s Book Friday where we talk all about the books we read for the week.
I wanted to tell you about one book in particular, that completely blew me away.
I read it in one day. Maybe just a couple of hours. It grasped my attention from the beginning. What book could have grabbed hold of me in such a way? Well….a book about bees. Yes real bees that fly around and get honey.
Review: I wasn’t sure what to think about this book. How the heck would bees interest me? I love honey and bees always intrigued me so I wanted to give it a try. What could it hurt? I was very happy I did read it. From the moment I read chapter one, the main character Flora 717 had me hooked. She has just emerged from her comb as an adult. Here new life has begun. We are thrust into the bee world with cast systems, oppression, societal rules, a mother religion and many many bees. This world drew my attention right away. Laline brings their world to life with Flora in an exceptional way.
Flora is born into a low cast system, the lowest in her hive. It’s a matriarchal hive ruled by one Queen. But the moment Flora is born its obvious she’s different. At her birth a deformed bee gets killed by the fertility police because of being different from the others, which they call sickness. Because Flora is bigger and different it could get her killed. But she’s saved by a priestess bee named Sage. She’s a priestess part of the caste system that rules the hive and takes care of the Queen. The Sage sees potential in Flora, so she gives her different positions with different bees, which is unusual. Normal bees usually die in their positions. She helps newborns hatch from their eggs, moves to the nursery to help raise them then becomes a forger flying for pollen only to move back to the servitude of her low caste system, a sanitary worker. Laline moves us flawless through the hierarchy of the hive with Flora’s job hopping to show us how unique Flora is and her world.
The first half of the book does a wonderful job in introducing us to the bees world on their religion for the Mother. The biggest rule is only the Queen can breed. Given that its a female hive with only few drones, male bees, it shouldn’t be that hard. But surprise are in store and Flora was born to bend the rules. She also meets many different bees along the way including a drone named Sir Linden. And boy are these male bees spoiled! But Flora was born to bend the rules. The bees communicate through their antennas, scent and touch. Many things happen to Flora that she needs to block her antenna from other bees reading her thoughts. And boy does she need to keep her secrets!
The book is written wonderfully, so much so that sometimes I forget that I’m reading about a bee! Flora was a character I grew attached to and concerned for throughout the book. I loved the language Laline developed for the bees. “The Queen’s Love”, “The Blessing,” “The Visitation” are a few of the words used for the bees rituals. I whipped through this book in one day. It was so unique that I highly recommend it for others to read.
The Bees Plot:
Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved Queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. With circumstances threatening the hive’s survival, her curiosity is regarded as a dangerous flaw but her courage and strength are an asset. She is allowed to feed the newborns in the royal nursery and then to become a forager, flying alone and free to collect pollen. She also finds her way into the Queen’s inner sanctum, where she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous.
But when Flora breaks the most sacred law of all—daring to challenge the Queen’s fertility—enemies abound, from the fearsome fertility police who enforce the strict social hierarchy to the high priestesses jealously wedded to power. Her deepest instincts to serve and sacrifice are now overshadowed by an even deeper desire, a fierce maternal love that will bring her into conflict with her conscience, her heart, her society—and lead her to unthinkable deeds.
The Author: Laline Paull
Laline Paull studied English at Oxford, screenwriting in Los Angeles, and theater in London. She lives in England with her husband, photographer Adrian Peacock, and their three children.
Thank you for joining us today. Until next time!