The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees

bySue Monk Kidd

Kobo ebook | January 28, 2003

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The multi-million bestselling novel about a young girl's journey towards healing and the transforming power of love, from the award-winning author of The Invention of Wings

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sister, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Heather's Review

I just loved The Secret Life of Bees. I was drawn into this book from the very first paragraph -- it's a story of sisterhood and the soul, written for those of us who prefer happy endings with a sense of realism. First-time novelist Sue Monk Kidd is going to be one to watch.

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Title:The Secret Life of BeesFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:January 28, 2003Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1101010967

ISBN - 13:9781101010969

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from I LOVED this book. I absolutely could not put it down. The descriptions were so vivid and realistic, I could see everything unfolding clearly in my mind's eye. Each character was incredibly crafted--August and Lily are my favourites. In Lily's narration it was plain that she was a teenager. The writing was so realistic--each belief and fear were so true to her age. The narrow scope of youth was so plain. I LOVED IT. I laughed, I cried, I never wanted to put it away. The way that the characters grow throughout the novel--especially Lily--was so moving. You don't just watch them grow, you grow right along with them. I absolutely recommend this book to everyone! More realistically, I recommend this book to fiction lovers, especially women's fiction lovers. The Secret Life of Bees is along the same lines as The Help. If you enjoyed that, you'll likely enjoy this too
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great ! This book was hard to get into and read at first, but after the second chapter when everything starts to happen, it gets more interesting and intense. The Secret Life of the Bees is also a easy novel to read. It took me two days to finish, and i really liked it.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great message i love it when i come across a book that leaves you so sad when it ends, and so moved by it. This book is a story of hardship, love, female power, and so much more. it's wonderful, and beautifully written. a must read for all girls there's two downsides to the book. one: in the middle of the book it started getting boring, when lily is living at August's house. it just goes on forever with no action. two: why was the only white man in the whole story a bad father who basically abused his daughter? nice message. still, a good read.
Date published: 2009-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great message i love it when i come across a book that leaves you so sad when it ends, and so moved by it. This book is a story of hardship, love, female power, and so much more. it's wonderful, and beautifully written. a must read for all girls there's two downsides to the book. one: in the middle of the book it started getting boring, when lily is living at August's house. it just goes on forever with no action. two: why was the only white man in the whole story a bad father who basically abused his daughter? nice message. still, a good read.
Date published: 2009-03-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Breathless ! :) At first, I thought it was a boring book about honey or something. But it wasn`t !! It was about the times in history that we will never forget. When things went too far, and you had nothing to fall back on. This book brought to life what I never expected. You`d think that the it would be boring, but it wasn`t. It was very good, and I loved it. 4/5
Date published: 2009-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Lovelyl Read Thoroughly enjoyed this book, took me back to my childhood. The characters were beautifully portrayed and the plot well developed with enough twists and turns to keep you up late at night reading.
Date published: 2009-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Truly Inspiring! "The Secret Life Of Bees" is an inspiring story of how a young white girl, Lily, is brought up by a troubled man, T. Ray. Lily's mother dies when she is only 4 years old and it becomes her quest to find out the truth of her mother's, Deborah, life. Lily and her nanny, Rosaleen, travel to South Carolina on a quest to find "the black Mary", a photo that was once Deborah's. Lily not only finds "the black Mary" on her journey, but she meets a wide variety of people that can offer her insight into her mother's life while she settles into her new found home. An amazing novel by Sue Kidd. I cannot wait to read another of her works.
Date published: 2008-12-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what Oprah made it to be... I am an amateur book critic by far so others may not agree with me. This story was compelling but not as wonderful as Oprah made it out to be on her show. The characters were believable and similarity to bees unique. However, just not as exciting as I had hoped. Hopefully others think different...
Date published: 2008-12-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointing I had heard a lot of good things about this book but I must say it was a disappointing read. The spiritual connections being made between the Black Madonna and the inner goddess just all seemed too hokey and bordered on cheesy and ridiculous. I did enjoy the development of the relationships between Lily and Rosaleen and the rest of the sisters and the author did a great job of painting the civil rights backdrop of the 60's and the influences it had on the characters' lives. The major influence that was given to the "divine Mary" in the book and her role in the womens' lives just really turned me off.
Date published: 2008-11-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Overrated, imho The Secret Life of Bees was disappointingly overrated, and often felt contrived, bordering on cockamamie. Although the premise was honourable and encouraged discovering your inner-strength and spirituality, and there were some memorable occasions that dealt with the injustices related to the civil rights movement, I think the characters and plot lines fell short of their intended ambition. Consistent holes and weaknesses in the storyline had me struggling to finish this short read. It’s also doubtful that it will fair any better as a motion picture with the ever so annoying Dakota Fanning as Lily. Although, maybe Queen Latifah will be its saving grace.
Date published: 2008-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from really good I thought that it was really neat how this story actually tied into bees. I also think its such a good story depicting the true meaning of friendship. A really cute little story.
Date published: 2008-10-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too much religion The religious contenet of this book was a lot to take. I expected some of that as the book is set in the country and in the 60s, but it was a huge part of the story. I am not usually a fan of preachy books, but this one was ok. Its a cute story and it is really well written. Having said that, I really don't think I will reach for this author again.
Date published: 2008-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read- couldn't put it down! Loved this book. Though I have read many books with a similar theme, and loved them just as much as this one- this book really was fantastically written. The characters seem genuine, and action starts almost immediately.
Date published: 2008-09-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Girl Power? I was a little nervous to read this book, because it is set in the south in 1964. I was worried that it would be too upsetting to read about the racial injustices, but it doesn't focus too much on that. Lily's search for learning about her mother, leads her to a "hive" of mothers and she learns she must leave home to find home. The women's bizarre worship of a black madonna masthead reminded me why I am protestant. Mary wasn't black, any more than she was white. She was a real person, not what we make her out to be. She was a young, Jewish woman. We don't know what she looked like. She definitely wasn't divine. In this book, they use it to help Lily discover her "divine female power". Although there is strength in our relationships with other women, I found the search for girl power a bit ridiculous. I liked her relationship with Zach, the young black bee keeper. I appreciate the bravery of the early inter-racial couples, who did it when it was so difficult. They paved the way for the rest of us, who can live our lives without race being an issue in our marriages. As for the bees, you learn alot about bee-keeping, and the descriptions are so real I could almost hear them buzzing around my head, and it made my skin crawl.
Date published: 2008-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow... This author...this book...the characters, all I can say is wow. I was not "grabbed from the first sentence" but instead I began this book only out of condolences from a friend, who grabbed me in a passioned moment and proclaimed I must read it or I should surely perish. I think I owe this friend my summers reading. Definetly a cup of coffee and a danish. I was seized by these incredible characters, the insight and wisdom that the author has woven to create a world that is not only enchanting, but also carries such a broad political message-the fact we are all equal in our love for each other and our beliefs, no matter how different, all have impact on the world and how we percieve it. It is a book that should not be taken lightly, though the innocent love story of the two children is splendid. I most admire the fact that Sue Monk Kidd goes into her own experiences and gives this story a personal touch, something a book of this caliber must have. Though thin, this story must be read.
Date published: 2008-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written! This book grabbed me from the first sentence and its beautiful language kept me engrossed till the very end...and I didn't want it to end! Sue Monk Kidd has the unbelieveable gift of painting pictures with words. Not only could I picture the surroundings and the characters, but I could smell, taste and feel everything that was described. A truly remarkable novel with a one-of-a-kind story. I liked the bits of history interspersed as well. Looking forward to reading The Mermaid's Chair!
Date published: 2008-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful, Uplifting Book Lily's mother died tragically when she was 4 years old and she has lived the last 10 years with an abusive father and a black housekeeper. One day Lily has had enough and at 14 years old runs away, with the housekeeper, to find out about her mother. This is a beautiful story of a girl who searches for a mother she never knew and in the process finds how to fill that empty hole with faith and a mother figure. This is a beautiful story. Set in 1960s South Carolina is deals with the racial relations of the times and the coming of the civil rights movement but these events are only a background for the story. It is within this backdrop that Lily, a white girl, comes to find a home and acceptance with a large black family of women. I loved this book, the characters, the setting, everything was just perfect. A wonderfully told story which really touched and uplifted my heart, having lost my own mother. Recommended.
Date published: 2008-06-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautifully written This is a beautifully written novel and a fantastic story.
Date published: 2008-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Favourite This book was one of my favourites. It is timeless in the sense that any age group could read it and enjoy it thoroughly. Sue Monk Kidd writes a moving story about love, loyalty and the courage to move on from tragedy. I recommend this book to customers who might be looking for a gift for someone but is unsure about the content of other novels. If you read this and like it try Sue Monk Kidd's "The Mermaid Chair" or the novel by Donna VanLiere "The Angels of Morgan Hill"
Date published: 2008-02-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from More than you bargain for... I was expecting a light read with this book. I did get more than I bargained for. I couldn't put it away and I can still vividly remember the story even after reading x number of books since. It has substance, dealing with women issues and racial discrimination, not your little romance novel here. I thought it was very well written.
Date published: 2008-02-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A truly amazing novel I have to admit that i'm not usually a fan of actually heart warming books, but this has surely changed me. It's an amazing story and I would highly recommend the read. It's just a truly amazing read.
Date published: 2008-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If a hug could be given by a book... The writing in this book is lovely - like a conversation with a dear friend over a warm cup of tea. I loved it and would recommend it to any girl looking for a book to read which leaves you with a warm and reassured feeling that life is going to be okay.
Date published: 2008-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Like a sojourn among friends This book had me hooked from the first page. I couldn't put it down, but was sorry to get to the end of it. The characters are so vivid it feels like you're among them.
Date published: 2008-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from secret life of bees A fantastic book. A great story about love and friendship!
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Don't see what the big deal is Like most people here, I’d heard nothing but praise for this novel. When I finally got around to reading it, I was quite disappointed. Not only are the characters one-dimensional and lacking real depth, but the plot itself is painfully predictable. I really, really wanted to enjoy this book, but I ended up skimming through parts of (something I rarely do). It just didn’t do it for me.
Date published: 2007-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My new favorite I picked this book up one day when I was in a hurry. I didn't really look at it, but it grabbed my interest. It turns out that I just loved the book. It made me feel stronger and more connected to others. I've already read it twice, and will surely read it again.
Date published: 2007-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Story of Sisterhood and the Soul I just loved The Secret Life of Bees. I was drawn into this book from the very first paragraph -- it's a story of sisterhood and the soul, written for those of us who prefer happy endings with a sense of realism. First-time novelist Sue Monk Kidd is going to be one to watch.
Date published: 2007-09-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Book These are the kind of books I usually still away from but it was the title that caught my eye. This books touched me on a lot of different levels and emotions. As far as I'm concerned this book is a 10 +.
Date published: 2007-04-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from interesting Very good book. This book is a good book, and can be read by the young and the old. The enviornment and the characters in this book is wonderful. Sue Monk Kidd is a great author, and keeps you interested in the book and the characters. I would definitely read this book again soon.
Date published: 2006-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another good coming of age story This story really takes the reader to the setting of the story. You can really feel for the characters. This book is also great for making one reflect on your place in the world and to view it from eyes of a different color.
Date published: 2006-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful read! I really enjoyed the book...definitely a summer read. It reminded me of helping my aunt make honey when I was young.
Date published: 2006-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from super sweet This was a great read. I fell in love with all the characters, even the bees!
Date published: 2006-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful set of characters I loved this book so much that when I finished, I turned back to the beginning and started reading it again. It is the first time I've ever read a book twice. I am a slow reader who savours each word and can honestly say, this book was as good the second time around. I would highly recommend it.
Date published: 2006-07-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Heartwarming and honest-- a GEM! This book was a heartwarming journey of the main character -- the rediscovery of her faith in human kindness and honesty. The author explores the character's relationship with herself through a series of challenging choices.....and developing friendships with strangers. The final settling is not predictable and remains true to the development of the main character. I thoroughly enjoyed each heart tugging, sad, silly part of this book.
Date published: 2006-07-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Words can't express... This book is by far the best book I have ever read. Perhaps it hit home with me because of a lack of a mother in my life, who knows. This book is about a girl who runs away with her black housekeeper to a town where she thinks her Mother may have been at one time or another. An amazing novel about sisterhood and find the "mother" within yourself and around you. A must read for all girls and women.
Date published: 2006-06-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Over rated I recommend "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" over this book anytime! The characters lack depth, and it can just pass for an entertaining easy summer read.
Date published: 2006-06-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Warm and Real I loved the experience of reading this book. Every good book leaves you with some kind of lingering feeling after you put it down ... this one made me feel as if I had slipped back into the uncertain feet of my own girlhood. No matter where you come from, or how you grew up, there's a sense of sisterhood that comes out of this book and touches every reader as though these women were part of our own lives. It's entertaining, yet familiar and comforting and inspiring.
Date published: 2006-06-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Amazing Novel I got this book as a birthday present from my step-mom and while at first I was a bit hesitant, as soon as I started it I was in love with it and could not put it down. I've read it and re-read it and every time it still pulls at my heartstrings. This beautful story about how Lily copes with guilt, anger, sorrow, racism, torture, love, friendship, and so much more, is a must read. Everyone clear out a slot on your bookshelf for "The Secret Life of Bees"
Date published: 2006-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my all-time favorites The characters are endearing, and real. The landscapes are wonderfully painted. The story is absorbing - in fact, I could hardly put it down. If you are interested in sisterhood, divinity and the meaning of life, I think you will enjoy this book. Buy it for yourself, your best friend, your mom and your sister.
Date published: 2006-06-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Book! This book was a brilliantly poetic account of a young girl, Lily, who's tragic loss of her mother profoundly affected every aspect of her life. She endured emotional abuse from her father who was a bitter and selfish man, unable to show affection for his only child. Lily's African American nanny, Rosaleen was a blessing in disguise as the two embark on an adventure to escape the lives that they had known. They move on to a world where the epicenter was A Pink House filled with love, despair, sisterhood, bees, honey and acceptance. This book was an insprational journey that showed profound and unconditional love in the midst of sadness and heartbreak. A definite Must Read!
Date published: 2006-06-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Deeply moving... This book touches the heart in such a "real life" kind of way... it leaves you feeling that even when all seems hopeless, finding love and bringing your life back together again really is possible - even under the most unusual circumstances.
Date published: 2006-05-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Buzz-worthy I received this book as a Christmas gift, but because I was kept constantly occupied, I had delayed reading it for about six months. I finally picked up the book yesterday and finished it today. It was an excellent read: Kidd is able to make the cultural and geographical setting relevant to the plot of the novel, while entwining stories of exploration, regret, racism, eccentricity, faith, life priorities, the unique bond between women, and ultimately, love. 14-year-old Lily Owens' coming-of-age tale is definitely one that I highly recommend, because of the masterful manner in which Kidd is able to put so many important ideas into the story. What was most impressive of the novel was the way that the numerous themes were able to all be related to something so natural and simple as the relationship between bees. I would not hesitate to recommend Kidd's book to anyone, and as the book cover reads, it is definitely a tale that should be shared between women, especially mothers and daughters.
Date published: 2006-05-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was a book to read After reading all the great reviews this book received, I was very intrigued to read it. There are some books out there that you read and don't really have any sort of feelings towards them, this was one of those books for me. It filled my was neither great nor was it bad.
Date published: 2006-02-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not bad I wanted to read this book because of the tens of recommendations I got for it. The book was ok. I could definitely see it being a movie; without a doubt. Plenty of racial tension and restrictions of freedom to stir up any producer/director in Hollywood. Lily was a good character. Sometimes I found her to be superficial and not genuine. What drew me was August Boatwright....She is what brought me to the end of the book. I highly recommend reading the Mermaid Chair by the same author. She really outdid herself.....Kidd has definite potential.
Date published: 2005-12-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A book with many levels. This book can simply be read as a beautiful story, as told by a young woman. On this level, the book has deep, caring characters that will instantly capture you. I think anyone, with any background, can relate with these characters and love this book. However, I think it is also important to remember where the story is set. The book describes South Carolina in 1964, just four years before Martin Luther King Jr. was assasinated. It describes a time where, in fact, violence against black and white civil rights activists was commonplace. For instance, civil rights workers were brutally murdered in Philadelphia in 1964 and dozens of black churches throughout the South were burned or bombed around 1963. This book does not dwell on the racial tension in the south at the time the novel is set, but I think any reader having this knowledge will find that the characters feel more vivid, because of the danger they face, and that the story is somehow more touching. This is one of the few books that I would recommend to anyone.
Date published: 2005-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best book ever! I strongly advise anyone that hasn't yet read this book, to read it!! It was so amazing that when I finished reading it, I felt sad, because I missed being with all the characters! I got to know them all so well, and I felt like I was a part of their family. This is by far, the best book I have ever read. I really want Sue to write a sequel! So if you're unsure of what book to read, this is definetly a MUST READ!!!!
Date published: 2005-10-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Secret Life of Bees I found this book to be an incredibly fast and easy read. It is very well written with strong characters. I could easily picture it as a movie. The book makes you think about how the world used to be not all that long ago. It's amazing how much things have changed. Read this story, you'll be glad you did!
Date published: 2005-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderous! This is a wonderful story with characters that are easy to relate to. Not only does is demonstrate power of heart but also the greatness in life's little pleasures.
Date published: 2005-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Sometimes you pick up a book that you are truely ment to read. This was that book for me. This book reminds us that we may not have the family we wanted, but you can find the family you need. I couldn't put this book down.Every page was better and better. I can't wait to read her next book.
Date published: 2005-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Restored My Love Of Reading This book is beautifully written, I felt as if I were living it rather than just hearing about's a rare talent for an author to be able to do that, to pull you in and make you feel like a silent character in the story. This book made me remember why I love reading, it's the first truly great book I've read after a long string of duds!!
Date published: 2005-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Great book, couldn't put it down. I would definately recommend!
Date published: 2005-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Almost The Secret Life of Bees was a touching book. One that should be read by everyone. Lily is an unusual, and genuine character with many different emotions. All the characters in the book each play a different role in her life, something that i found to be wonderful The plot is unique, it has never been done before. Kidd's style of writing reminds me of many different authors and books such as Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (If you think about, it is very similar.) Parts of the book are poorly written, but other parts are done beautifully. This book will be remembered as one that should be read, but has some rough spots. Kidd has the potential to become an excellent writer in the future.
Date published: 2005-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Book!!! The Secret Life of Bees is one of the best books I have ever read. This story is about Lily, a fourteen year old girl, who is searching to find the truth about her dead mother. When she meets August Boatwright, Lily discovers that August loves her like she is her own daughter. Lily then realises the importance of love and acceptance of other people. This is a wonderful book and a must read!
Date published: 2005-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I just love it This is a book every woman should read and pass down to their daughters. So beautifully written.
Date published: 2005-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful and Captivating Writing! The Secret Life of Bees is a beautifully written story about a young girl in search of her life's story. I especially loved the use of language, I found myself rereading sentences, marvelling in how beautifully they were scripted and executed. This is a story that I will treasure for a lifetime and pass on for generations to come!
Date published: 2004-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Moving, Memorable, Beautifully Written I will keep it, read it again and pass it on to the people in my life. The Secret Life of Bees is a wonderful story, beautifully written, with such moving characters. You'll fall in love with the main character, Lily Owens, and the women that become a part of her while she struggles through her pain. Through Lily's ordeal the readers will inevitably discover something about themselves, and learn important life lessons on what it means to be a human being. It's the kind of read that makes your train ride to work seem far too short. I couldn't put it down. Pick it up - you'll be glad you did.
Date published: 2004-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enthralling and Unique! This story was so original and fabulously written. I especially liked the different characters (my favourite was May). Being a teenager, it was hard to imagine what Lily was going through and how much courage she had. My mom read this book first, but after I read it, I know it is a great read for teens too! Thank you Sue for writing an entertaining and inspirational read!
Date published: 2004-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a book you need to read! What an enjoying read! The Secret Life of Bees is a fantastic lyrically-written book that you can't put down. The heroine comes to this family broken and indignant looking for traces of her mother. The path, led by a black virgin Mary, leads to an an unusual family full of hope, love, and understanding. The ending leaves the reader warm and hopeful.
Date published: 2003-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspirational book! This was a sweet, touching and inspirational book. A great read (especially for women).
Date published: 2003-10-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Queen bee - August Boatwright I enjoyed this novel as a fast easy read. I didn't feel terribly drawn to any of the characters, although I think we all wish we had someone in our lives with the wisdom and compassion of August Boatwright. Lily's self-pity grew somewhat tiresome, but the conclusion provided evidence of her emotional growth and left me smiling.
Date published: 2003-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read!! I just couldn't put it down!! Well written with believable characters. If you enjoy female relationships, and personal growth then this is the book for you! I look forward to her next book...
Date published: 2003-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Secret Life of Bees Captivating! This is a book that will be read and reread for years to come! Unbelievable for a first novel...I can't wait to see what comes next!
Date published: 2003-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hands Down The best book I have ever read.
Date published: 2003-05-12