Now in paperback, Lisa O'Donnell's The Death of Bees won the Commonwealth Book Prize and received tremendous acclaim earlier this year in hardcover. Praised for its dark comedy and portrayal of the relationship between two sisters, The Death of Bees is "really about the strength of sisters, the sparkle of imagination and how even the most motley of half lives can somehow coalesce into a shining whole" (Houston Chronicle).
Read on for more about the book, an excerpt, and reading group guide.
"Today I buried my parents in the backyard.
Neither of them were beloved."
Marnie and her little sister, Nelly, are on their own now. Only they know what happened to their parents, Izzy and Gene, and they aren't telling. While life in Glasgow's Maryhill housing estate isn't grand, the girls do have each other.
As the New Year comes and goes, Lennie, the old man next door, realizes that his young neighbors are alone and need his help. Lennie takes them in—feeds them, clothes them, protects them—and something like a family forms. But soon, the sisters' friends, their teachers, and the authorities start asking tougher questions. As one lie leads to another, dark secrets about the girls' family surface, creating complications that threaten to tear them apart.
Written with ferce sympathy and beautiful precision, told in alternating voices, The Death of Bees is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of three lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for one another.