Of Bees and Mist

She fell back into the chair shaking with anger. She tried to breathe, but the air had turned thick with bees. All this time Eva had been watching and listening patiently, storing her opportunities and keeping her insects silent. She was the one who had been careless, the one who had been too sure. Permony and Malin had warned her and she had not listened. Now Eva had struck and gotten Daniel where she wanted him-on her side and hateful to his own wife. (p. 331)

Of Bees and Mist, of selfishness and control, of mothers-in-law and husbands, this book weaves a tale which is part magical fantasy, part reality,and all tenacity of Meridia. My favorite character.

Yet, each character is drawn with such articulate strokes, it is easy to picture them all before you:

  • Ravenna, Meridia’s mother, with her high-necked, long-sleeved, black dress and iron knot of hair at the back of her head;
  • Gabriel, her father, sitting at his baronial desk when he isn’t accompanied by a blue or yellow mist to and from his home;
  • Daniel, her love and husband, who was weak but became strong; and
  • overshadowing them all is Eva: Malin, Permony and Daniel’s mother, Elias’ wife, Patina’s daughter, and Meridia’s mother in law.

Such a powerful creature of greed and control, selfishness and deceit, she is able to manipulate everything and everyone. She turns her mother’s feet to goat hooves so that Patina hobbles humbly in serving the family. She turns one daughter against the other so skillfully it isn’t until the eldest is an adult that she realizes how cruelly she treated her little sister. Eva tries, time and time again, to manipulate, Meridia. But, she cannot do it.

Not even her bees have power against Meridia’s strength. Her bees can fill a room with their stinging needles and buzzing hisses, her bees come forth when she beckons them to do her will. But, Meridia has seen her mother seize a chair and break the window panes to pieces in order to let the bees escape. She knows of other tactics, most particularly that of fortitude, which will not permit the bees to have their way.

I loved, loved, loved this book.

In online PhD online programs you end up reading a lot of books too.
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23 thoughts on “Of Bees and Mist”

  1. While it is atmospheric, there is definitely "plot and action" at the same time; we learn what happens to the generations and especially Daniel and Meridia. The bees are such a wonderful analogy for weapons that the mother-in-law has in her arsenal. I'm sure anyone who reads this will have connections to one's own life.

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  2. Retail therapy, hmmm? Usually when that strikes me, I buy a new lipstick as well as a new book. Eventually, one must ask oneself, "Exactly how many are enough?" This book, however, is a worthy addition to your collection. Of books, not lipsticks. ;)I'm glad you liked the passage I quoted. It was hard to find something that perfectly summed Eva up, or her bees, because she's so multi-faceted. If evil can have many facets.

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  3. I loved, loved, loved this one too. It was part of the First Look Book Club (Barnes & Noble). It's a book I wouldn't normally be attracted to but, because of the club, I read it. It's taught me to be a bit more accepting of books I only think I won't like.

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  4. Margot, I'm not familiar with the First Look Book Club, but it sounds wonderful to know about the books coming out from the get go. I, too, am finding myself branching out into genres I normally don't go…where once I really disliked magical realism, the Japanese authors I'm crazy about have taught me to love it.Chasing Bawa, I'm sure she will haunt me, too. Or, I'll be talking to someone at school, and I'll casually ask, "Is your name Eva by chance?" Just for a private laugh.

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  5. I just read Aimee of My Fluttering Heart earlier review of this and now I understood what the bees meant – words and gossip and whispers.I have eyed this book and my eyes are ever active whenever I find it.

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  6. Cutlex, exactly! "Words and gossip and whispers"…much of what one finds in the teacher's lounge. I have to so guard against that when I'm in school, but really, it's everywhere if you look.

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  7. Lucky you; I've had one with worse than bees! (Not to mention a few elementary school teachers in my youth. Hence the desire to become a teacher myself and dispell some of the rigid scorn.)

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  8. Is that real sunflower? What a lovely picture! It sounds like I really really need to get to this one. Hopefully sooner than later.

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  9. Sooo tempting… You write such a great sales pitch. I always enjoy a story that is based on relationships, life's turning points, and emotions. Sounds like this one would fit well on my TBR list. Thanks.

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  10. I saw quite a few positive review of this back when I started blogging. I really wanted to read it then and I really want to read it now. Thank you for reminding me.

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  11. ds, bees are such a wonderful metaphor!mee, those are real sunflowers to which I added some plants (who knows their real name, not me!) from our yard for an arrangement. It adorned the table for Wednesday's book club meeting, but I had to remove it after dessert because we couldn't see each other!Midlife Jobhunter, we are talking about the same thing! I just used the wrong term. Magical realism, that's what I meant to say. Thanks! Tamara, I love books that examine relationship as they seem extra applicable, and when they're written with a whimsical element it helps us manage the grief. Even if it's only the characters' grief.Iris, this has been just released in paperback so now it should be more easily available to you.

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  12. I'm so glad. Worried I had sounded stupid. I saw the book at Costco today, but decided to wait for the library. Refraining as no room exists on my Books to be Read shelf. Bought a bottle of wine instead.

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  13. This looks like an interesting book, but probably a little bit difficult to read, if one had lived in a complex family (who hasn't? :)) Will add it to my wishlist.

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