LEIGH FORBES: Books of all Sorts

The Bees

5-star

by Laline Paull.

Fabulous.

Flora 717 is a sanitation worker, the lowest kin in the hive, way way below the Queen and the high priestesses; but Flora is strong, clever, and she can speak. And somehow she learns the skills to do much more than just clean: feed the young, forage, make wax, chew propolis, take out the dead… and there are many dead. 

Having been a beekeeper, I feared I would struggle with this book. And certainly, knowing what happens in the real world of the hive meant I guessed many of the challenges Flora and her sisters would face, and I guessed the ending well in advance, but that made me even more curious to keep reading, to find out how Paull would manage each issue. Perfectly, is the answer.

The narrative carries the reader along, offering a smorgasbord for the senses. The Bees has gone straight onto my list of all-time favourite books. Five stars.

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