Agh! I’m behind on the reading because we went away for a few days. I’m going to try to catch up this weekend! Looking forward to getting back into the book.
I just finished the book and I loved it! When I started reading, it took me a little while to get into the rhythm of the back and forth between the 3 perspectives, but they all merge at the end and it is a very satisfying conclusion.
Happy Monday! Just standing in for @Jennifer_D again to ask - how are we all doing with the reading?
As it’s nearing the end of the month, we could open up the discussion to include the whole book. How would you all feel about that?
Yes, I would be okay to open the whole book - I’ve finished it!
Awesome! Would love a discussion on that. I’ve finished the book and all I can say is it blew my mind. It’s my first cli-fi novel. A totally new genre for me, and I am glad we pick this book this month
Open it up! I’m ready and anxious to discuss this book. WOW.
Excellent! Let’s go ahead and open it up then.
Jennifer’s prompts for the final portion of the book are going to be a little delayed, so please feel free to bring up any and all topics that you’re burning to talk about, and share your questions and thoughts with the group.
I’m still plodding through! Just a few chapters away from the end now, but I don’t mind if you start discussing - I’ll avert by eyes.
Here’s a few thoughts on the last batch of Jennifer’s questions:
I really hope she finds him. I think maybe she will eventually find his dead body and will be able to take it home to bury or something bittersweet like that. I don’t think she really has a choice as a mother whether to go and look for him or not - her drive to look after him is too strong. And I don’t think she’d be able to use the money towards another child easily without feeling guilt that she was somehow replacing him.
Hmmm, this is interesting. I didn’t really see the point of his annual trips to the blueberry farm, other than a kind of nostalgia, so it did seem risky to take the bees there when he didn’t really need to. But then once we found out about the colony collapse, it made the loss of those few bear hives seem pretty insignificant. I suppose the point that’s being made is that whether you’re a careful beekeeper or not, the colony collapse will get you.
Considering the number of fathers and sons in the book, it makes me wonder what William’s father was like - are we ever told anything about his parents? I can’t remember. Perhaps his father was absent and so Rahm has become a sort of surrogate father figure and William needs his approval.
I’m just at that point where Tao has been to the library and figures out Wei Wen was stung, so that feels like some kind of progress at least. She’s acting like she is less desperate. And Charlotte has just come up with her brainwave for the hive, so William is also coming out of his funk lying in the dirt. I haven’t read if there’s anything hopeful for George yet, I can’t imagine what would remedy his situation - I don’t think there’s any kind of solution for colony collapse… Maybe this disaster will somehow bring him and Tom closer together, that would be a happy ending of sorts for him.
Now that December is here, we hope you’ve all had some time to reflect on The History of Bees. Here are a few questions to think about - feel free to answer any of the ones that appeal to you, and also to raise your own questions for us to discuss!
Which character do you think is most important in the book? Whose life story holds the three narrative threads together?
On page 316, Tao notices that Li Xiara and the teenage boy both emphasize that “Each and every one of us is not important.” Did you take this as a comment about community or loneliness?
How do the workings of the hive impart a lesson for humans? Is there any wisdom to be gleaned from the way their “society” works?
George is preoccupied with leaving a “legacy” behind, resisting Emma’s attempts to move them to Florida. Were you surprised by the form his legacy ultimately took?
Children are an important part of the novel. By the end of each narrative, what do each of the children offer to their parents?
The History of Bees ends on a hopeful note. Did you like this? Was it realistic to you? And how do you theorize the bees made a return?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! @Kate_Minckler @Sue_Dix @thereadingowlvina @Penny_Literary_Hoarders @Kim @Jane_D @Claudette_Germain @Susan_Beamon @Michael_D_McClure @Jeannine_Haduch @Gwen_Stackler
Finally got back to the book to finish it. I liked it overall, although I wasn’t as impressed with the two men.
- I liked Tao best, but I don’t think any character was more or less important to the story. The way we read the story made linear thinking about it difficult. I believe that was the reason for the intertwining structure of the book.
- I take the comment as more about the Chinese culture than anything else. It emphasizes that community is more important than the individual.
- Cooperation is a good thing.
- I’d probably resist moving to Florida, and I don’t live where the winters are so bad.
- I think they offer a new way of looking at the problems the parent had, not that the parent thought they had a problem.
- If the book hadn’t ended with the bees making a comeback, I think we would have felt cheated. Why else would we have invested so much in the story. History and nature is circular. What goes around, comes around. The only way to be successful at managing that is to try something new the next cycle. This is what Tao said at the end. We have to treat bees differently this time, or we risk losing them again. Since we really don’t know what causes CCD, keeping bees in hives of our making might not be the best idea.