Taste The Sweetness Of An Unforgetable Odyssey In "The Bees"

18652002 Title:  The Bees
Author:  Laline Paul
Format:  Ebook
Length:  338 pages
Publisher:  Ecco
Rating:  5 Stars
The Handmaid's Tale meets The Hunger Games in this brilliantly imagined debut.

Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is a sanitation bee, only fit to clean her orchard hive. Living to accept, obey and serve, she is prepared to sacrifice everything for her beloved holy mother, the Queen. Yet Flora has talents that are not typical of her kin. And while mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is reassigned to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting pollen on the wing. Then she finds her way into the Queen's inner sanctum, where she discovers secrets both sublime and ominous. Enemies roam everywhere, from the fearsome fertility police to the high priestesses who jealously guard the Hive Mind. But Flora cannot help but break the most sacred law of all, and her instinct to serve is overshadowed by a desire, as overwhelming as it is forbidden...

Laline Paull's chilling yet ultimately triumphant novel creates a luminous world both alien and uncannily familiar. Thrilling and imaginative, The Bees is the story of a heroine who changes her destiny and her world.  -Goodreads
My Thoughts
I started reading this book in an effort to locate the sleep that as of 2:30 A.M. had done its best to elude me.
Bad idea!
I was utterly entranced by the plucky Flora 717, and the stories that made up the astounding details of her life in the hive.
The attention to detail that went into the intricate world built here is phenomenal. Every level of bee society is put under a high powered microscope for the reader.

Because Flora is part of the Sanitation caste of her hive, she is the lowest of the low. She is meant to be invisible. The fact that she has by her very birth order, been deemed innocuous, makes both her adventures and her gifts all the more extraordinary.

She is the perfect under-bee. Never expected to succeed in any of the many upper echelon settings, tasks, or situations in which she finds herself. She manages to not only achieve more than anyone expects of her; she also manages to prove herself an invaluable asset to the hive as a whole.

There are also a surprising number of secrets and conspiracies afoot, both within the hive, and without. The greatest secret being the one carried by Flora herself.

This is a book that sneaks into the mind and heart of the reader. Addressing issues such as loyalty, honor, family, perseverance, self motivation, and honesty. This book is a true unsung hero of the literary world. 

About Laline

I am an author, playwright and screenwriter. I live just outside Hastings on the south coast of England, with my husband (the photographer Adrian Peacock) my daughter, my two step-sons and one ancient cat.
As a child, books and animals were my best friends. My parents were first-generation Indian immigrants. I went to a comprehensive school, then a grammar school for sixth form, then won a scholarship to Oxford where I read English. I have been immersed in the full spectrum of the British class system – and I firmly believe in the power of nurture, at least as much as nature.
My writing shed is also something of a hide in the garden, and I spend a lot of time gazing out at the local wildlife. I procrastinate with binoculars – watching insects, squirrel battles, and I’m struck by the power of quietly paying attention: how readily the world reveals itself. I saw a dove arch its wings back and hiss at a rat, to drive it away.
I’ve worked in the film business in many capacities: receptionist, gofer, trainee film-financier, sales agent, development and acquisition, reader, craft-services*, and finally, screenwriter. I’ve lived and worked in Los Angeles, New York and London. Film is a transcendent and truly awesome medium.
When I had my daughter I stopped writing for television and started writing for the theatre, because time had become more precious, and story-telling by committee didn’t suit me. Working with actors is great. They are the word made flesh. Being in rehearsal exposes you, and makes you a better writer.
*My fall-back skill is cooking. I’ve learned in some great kitchens, starting with my mother’s, and good food makes everything better. Flora 717 has a big appetite – and now I think about it, that part of her character must be mine too, because one thing that amazed me when I lived in L.A., was the frequency with which female friends would suggest ‘splitting a salad’. Or when the hostess gave women tiny portions, assuming they had to be dieting.
After THE BEES, the work I’m most proud of is a play I wrote for the National Theatre, called BOAT MEMORY. There are more details in the Theatre section, but it’s based on the true story of why unknown young Charles Darwin sailed on The Beagle – to return three kidnapped teens back to their homeland of Patagonia, because instead of becoming good little missionaries, they became celebrities and wreaked social havoc. It’s a great true story that I happened upon, and like THE BEES, I seized it and wrote it as fast as I could.
Writing The Bees has brought many brilliant people into my life and opened many doors. It is a great thing, to find your wings in middle age.
Writing well is hard and anxious work. This makes me trust the process.
I always felt that to connect with a book was to ride in the author’s mind. And that if I loved their book, it must somehow mean they were a friend to me, and still alive, regardless of their corporeal state. Now that I’m meeting real live writers and have become one myself, I know that you can give most intimately on the page, but perhaps become even more private, in person.
It takes twelve bees their entire lives to gather enough nectar to make one teaspoon of honey. It should be priced like gold.
This is a map of a Minoan palace interior, from the British Museum. The Cretan Minoan civilization dates from 1700BC, and was very sophisticated and sexually egalitarian, if not biased towards women. It was an inspiration for translating a real beehive into a fictional landscape.

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