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3.00000696046802 out of 53.00000696046802 out of 53.00000696046802 out of 53.00000696046802 out of 53.00000696046802 out of 5 3.00 (574,674 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Sue Monk Kidd Narrator: Jenna Lamia Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2003 ISBN: 9781101050989
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Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her harsh, unyielding father, Lily Owens has shaped her entire life around one devastating, blurred memory—the afternoon her mother was killed, when Lily was four. Since then, her only real companion has been the fierce-hearted, and sometimes just fierce, black woman Rosaleen, who acts as her “stand-in mother.”

When Rosaleen insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily knows it’s time to spring them both free. They take off in the only direction Lily can think of, toward a town called Tiburon, South Carolina—a name she found on the back of a picture amid the few possessions left by her mother.

There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters named May, June, and August. Lily thinks of them as the calendar sisters and enters their mesmerizing secret world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over this household of strong, wise women. Maternal loss and betrayal, guilt and forgiveness entwine in a story that leads Lily to the single thing her heart longs for most.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Sue Monk Kidd is an extraordinary storyteller. Beautifully written."—Ursula Hegi

    "A wonderful novel about mothers and daughters and the transcendent power of love."—Connie May fowler

    "With imagination as lush and colorful as the American South, a clutch of deliciously eccentric characters and vivid prose, Sue Monk Kidd creates a rich, maternal haven in a harsh world." —Christina Schwarz

  • “Sue Monk Kidd’s eccentric, inventive, and ultimately forgiving novel is reminiscent of the work of Reynolds Price in its ability to create a truly original Southern voice.”

    Anita Shreve, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • “This is the story of a young girl’s journey toward healing, and of finding, at its end, not only wholeness but the intrinsic sacredness of living in the world. I think it is simply wonderful.”

    Anne Rivers Siddons, New York Times bestselling author

  • “With imagination as lush and colorful as the American South, a clutch of deliciously eccentric characters, and vivid prose, Sue Monk Kidd creates a rich, maternal haven in a harsh world.”

    Christina Schwarz, #1 New York Times bestselling author

  • “What a splendid novel! It’s wonderfully thoughtful and sensitive and compulsively readable.”

    Susan Isaacs, New York Times bestselling author

  • “I am amazed that this moving, original, and accomplished book is a first novel. It is wonderfully written, powerful, poignant, and humorous, and takes a line which is—refreshingly—strongly female without being cliche-feminist. It is also deliciously eccentric, which lifts it out of the usual category of a rite-of-passage novel into the realms of real distinction. DO read it.”

    Joanna Trollope, #1 internationally bestselling author

  • The Secret Life of Bees is a novel of love and almost unbelievable courage, the quest of one young girl in search of her mother and so much more. Sue Monk Kidd takes on huge things, and by writing about what is mysterious, even difficult, in life, illuminates what is beautiful. She proves that a family can be found where you least expect it—maybe not under your own roof but in that magical place where you find love. The Secret Life of Bees is a gift, filled with hope.”

    Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Sue Monk Kidd has written a wonderful novel about mothers and daughters and the transcendent power of love, all the while masterfully illuminating the feminine face of God.”

    Connie May Fowler, American novelist, essayist, memoirist, screenwriter, and poet

  • “Honey-sweet but never cloying, this debut by nonfiction author Kidd features a hive’s worth of appealing female characters, an offbeat plot, and a lovely style.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • The Secret Life of Bees is a carefully crafted novel with an inspired depiction of character. The legend of the Black Madonna and the brave, kind, peculiar women who perpetuate Lily’s story dominate the second half of the book, placing Kidd’s debut novel squarely in the honored tradition of the Southern Gothic.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “An uplifting story.”

    Booklist

  • “There is a wonderful sense of the strength of female friendship and love throughout the story.”

    School Library Journal

  • “[A] sweeping debut novel…The stunning metaphors and realistic characters are so poignant that they will bring tears to your eyes.”

    Library Journal

  • “A wonderfully written debut that rather scants its subject of loss and discovery—a young girl searching for the truth about her dead mother—in favor of a feminist fable celebrating the company of women and the ties between that mothers and daughters. The prose is lapidary, the characters diverse, and the story unusual.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Writing with the intimate voice of the memoirist and with the Southerner’s abiding sense of place, Sue Monk Kidd has written a forgiving story for the motherless child in all of us.”

    Shelby Hearon, award-winning author

  • “Sue Monk Kidd is an extraordinary storyteller. In The Secret Life of Bees, she explores a young girl’s search for the truth about her mother; her courage to tear down racial barriers; and her joy as she claims her place within a community of women. Beautifully written.”

    Ursula Hegi, author of The Vision of Emma Blau

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shon Rand | 2/12/2014

    " It's a little girly for me. But there is some fine writing in it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Conny Lang | 2/10/2014

    " loved it, loved it, loved it "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emily Callaway | 2/8/2014

    " Another used bookstore find for $1 (someone there was an Oprah book club fan). I just found out almost all my cheapie finds were from her book club reads. It was cute and a pretty good book :) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Robandbecky Thomas-sherrid | 1/25/2014

    " I truly loved this book. If you enjoy it, do yourself a favor and get the book Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman. You will surely enjoy this too! I will be reading this book with my 10 year old daughter, I think she will enjoy it and get a lot out of it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Hechicera Verde | 1/24/2014

    " The setting in this book will SUCK you IN! The characters were very easy to get to know and the story was well developed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Toni Chanakas | 1/23/2014

    " Cute, innovative book that I could not put down. It was easy to read and you had empathy for all the characters - Good character development. I first watched the movie then read the book. Fantastic that is all I can say. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Michaella | 1/21/2014

    " I loved this book. While the coming of age storyline is commonly used, this puts an entirely new twist on it through a very moving story with fantastic characters. Character development is there, but not so obvious that it is spelled out for you. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeanette | 1/20/2014

    " Beautiful beyond words. <3 <3 <3 "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sami Jackson | 1/20/2014

    " Inspiring story, If you liked the Help you'll love this "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vilma Mesa | 12/18/2013

    " Loved the description of the places and the characters; loved the way in which racism and discrimination was dealt with. a great story in spite of being so sad. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janalee Jensen | 11/29/2013

    " I had to put this book away after reading half of it because I didn't want it to end...Such a great book. Great characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cathleen Gillingham | 11/7/2013

    " I read this as a local book club selection. Great read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricia Gleason | 11/5/2013

    " Great read. Makes you laugh and cry. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Moira Taylor | 10/30/2013

    " Great book. Moving account of a young white girl's search for who her mother was in the company of a coloured friend at a critical time in the history of the american civil rights movement. Brilliantly woven through with the art of bee-keeping. Fascinating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paulette | 10/21/2013

    " Very good story. I recommend it. Very sad at times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alissa | 10/20/2013

    " I loved this book! I thought the ending left a little to be desired though. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bethany Malmgren | 9/20/2013

    " Enjoyed it while I read it, but found it quite forgettable afterwards. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shelly | 8/31/2013

    " This was such a charming book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rebekah | 3/11/2013

    " My favorite quote: "the world will give you that once in a while, a brief timeout; the boxing bell rings & you go to your corner, where someone dabs mercy on your beat-up life." "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pamela Takeshige | 1/29/2013

    " This story is very uplifting. I wish something like this could happen in real life. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jacci Wolff | 1/3/2013

    " Much much better then The Mermaid Chair. Loved it, wish there was a sequel. I miss the pink house already. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jakki Leonard | 11/17/2012

    " Felt rushed, and slap dash! I think it could have been brilliant, and when a book fails to live up to its potential, it's worse than when one is just crap!!!! It seems like sue just could not be bothered to write it!!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Allyson | 11/3/2012

    " I really liked this book a lot. I loved the relationship between Lily and Rosaleen. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alisha Pulsipher | 6/9/2012

    " This was a fun, entertaining read. I really enjoyed it. It may not have been the most believable plot but the characters were fun and it covered some important topics: love, racism, death... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carla | 11/1/2011

    " This is a book that keeps you hooked from the very beginning. Loved how it got you so emotionally involved. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary Elizabeth Morton | 10/10/2011

    " This book has tragic moments...but it also uplifts you. A sweet & easy read. Looking forward to seeing how the movie compares to the book. :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren Faber | 7/20/2011

    " Definitely a classic! This book was an easy read and i loved the time period it was set in! Be forewarned, it gets intense very quickly, and the ending is bittersweet with an emphasis on the *bitter*. If you liked this book, you will LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE "The Help"!!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Arya | 7/2/2011

    " The book The Secret Life Of Bees is a great book for young adults and teens. Lily (the main character) really tells you all about her life in this story. The author really describes her life, and it feels as if your living in it. People who liked The Help will also really enjoy this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carrie | 5/24/2011

    " I like books about souther women. This was a good one. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sadeem | 5/23/2011

    " It started very well but then the story got ridiculous .. I didn't actually like it .. & wouldn't recommend it "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzanne | 5/23/2011

    " I read this one years ago, but decided to pick it up again b/c of my new hobby. Still a great book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ryan | 5/22/2011

    " yes...I read this...I did not know it was a chick book but I have to say once I picked it up I had it finished by the time my trip was over. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 5/21/2011

    " This is a beautiful written novel, full of love, humour, and eccentric characters. A story of hope and finding a family anyplace where there are people who care and love you for who you are. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katie | 5/21/2011

    " Loved this one too. Sooooo much better than The Help! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather | 5/19/2011

    " I read this book a while ago, and never saw the movie released, but still remember well certain descriptions in this book. I really enjoyed it. "

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About the Author
Author Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd's first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, spent more than one hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold more than six million copies in the United States, and was turned into an award-winning major motion picture, and has been translated into thirty-six languages. Her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, was a number-one New York Times bestseller and adapted into a television movie. Her third novel, The Invention of Wings, was a number-one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah's Book Club 2.0. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs, including the New York Times bestseller Traveling with Pomegranates, written with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor. She lives in Florida.  

About the Narrator

Jenna Lamia is an actress and award-winning audiobook narrator. She has won the prestigious Audie Award, as well as more than a dozen AudioFile Earphones Awards. Her acting credits include appearances on Oz, Law & Order: SVU, and NYPD Blue. She has attended Amherst College, New York University, and the Sorbonne in Paris.