Telling the Bees
By Peggy Hesketh
(Berkley Trade, Paperback, 9780425264881, 320pp.)
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
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A lifelong beekeeper, Albert Honig is deeply acquainted with the ways and workings of the hives. He knows that bees dislike wool clothing and foul language; that the sweetest honey is made from the blooms of eucalyptus; and that bees are at their gentlest in a swarm. But Albert is less versed in the ways of people, especially his beautiful, courageous, and secretive friend Claire.
A friend and neighbor since childhood, Claire was a hovering presenceand then a glaring absencein Albert’s life, a change that has never been reconciled. When she is killed in a seemingly senseless accident during a burglary gone wrong, Albert is haunted by the loss. In the aftermath of this tragedy, he is left to piece together the events of their lives to attempt to make sense of their shared past and the silence that persisted between them for a decade before her death. What Albert comes to learn is that Claire’s secrets were far darker than anything he could have imagined...
Peggy Hesketh’s writing has appeared in Calliope and Antietam Review; her short story A Madness of Two” was selected by Elizabeth George for inclusion in the anthology Two of the Deadliest. A longtime journalist, Hesketh teaches writing and rhetoric at the University of California, Irvine. This is her first novel.
- Throughout the novel, we learn many details about bees and beekeeping. Did you enjoy this facet of the book? Did you learn anything about bees that surprised you? Why do you think the author chose to have the protagonist be a beekeeper?
“With infinite compassion and perfect pitch, Peggy Hesketh has written an American classic.”—Elizabeth George
“Some have compared Telling the Bees, Peggy Hesketh’s first, stately and beautiful novel to The Remains of the Day, but to my mind it compares to the best of Elmore Leonard. There are murders here but much more than that: a series of glimpses into an entirely different and closed place…in addition to the murder-mystery part of this narrative, the bees add another entirely sweet layer of plot and character.”—The Washington Post
“ELEGIAC AND INTELLIGENT.”—Gordon McAlpine, author of Joy in Mudville
“WONDERFUL.”—Karen Joy Fowler, New York Times bestselling author
“HEARTFELT [AND] THOUGHT-PROVOKING.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“POIGNANT.”—Gail Tsukiyama, author of A Hundred Flowers
“CHARMING.”—Jo-Ann Mapson, author of Solomon’s Oak
“DOWNRIGHT GORGEOUS.”—The Christian Science Monitor