Welcome back for another Worldwide Wednesday, the series where every week I choose a book from a different country and talk about it! Last week we travelled to Beijing, China, and today we’re travelling to… South Carolina.
Ages ago I read the brilliant book ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ by Sue Monk Kidd, and this book is relevant to South Carolina, as the story starts off there, on a peach farm, and the author also lives there, so the deep South in general is a key part of the novel.
‘The Secret Life of Bees’ follows the journey of a young girl, Lily, who runs away with her maid, Rosaleen, when her violent father’s behaviour gets too much for them, and when Rosaleen gets in trouble with the police for standing up to a white man. While running away, she stumbles upon a family of African American sisters who make and sell honey, and who she feels an unusual affinity with. Lily soon creates friendships with the sisters, and she begins to understand the African American community, as well as grows close to those who are part of this community.
This book is set in the 1960s, and so the fact that this family are all black is a key point, and the racism and segregation of the deep South in the 1960s play a key role in the problems that the family must face, and the unusual aspect of Lily’s relationship with the women. This is why I thought of this book to feature in the Worldwide Wednesday series, as the deep South and South Carolina plays an important role in the messages of the novel, and the storyline in general.
The setting of this novel, and the detail and research due to the fact that Sue Monk Kidd is lives in South Carolina, also plays a key role in why Lily and Rosaleen run away in the first place, and so this setting is perfect, and the fact that Rosaleen only gets into a fight with a man because of race prejudices and the problems of the deep South shows the significance of South Carolina in the book. While reading the book, I often found it uncomfortable and difficult to read about the segregation and prejudice of the 1960s in South Carolina, and the issues of this period for African Americans were clear.
One of the things I loved about this book was the friendship between the sisters and Lily, as well as the friendship and love between each of the sisters. Each of the sisters had a completely different personality, and I couldn’t help but love the crazy sister May, as well as the wise character of August… and of course, the sass of Alicia Keys as June in the film was brilliant! The fact that these women protected Lily, despite the racism of her social group and her background was also lovely, and their bonding was just brilliant, and it made me so happy.
Overall, I loved this book, and I thought that the deep South, particularly South Carolina, was a key part of it, and the fact that Sue Monk Kidd lives in South Carolina came across by the research and detail regarding the position of African Americans, and the lack of options open to African Americans at this time. When I say ‘at this time’, my Grandma was in her teens in this decade, which really brings home how near in history African Americans were treated horrifically.
Can I also say, I absolutely loved the character of Zach, he was just so lovely and human, and he made me laugh, as well as cry.
Have you read this book? Do you want to? Do you enjoy reading books from different places in the world?
Let me know in the comments below!
Happy reading x
Currently reading: ‘The Invention of Wings’ by Sue Monk Kidd (another one by the same author!)