Review – The History of Bees

The history of bees by Maja Lunde
Published: August 22nd 2017 by Touchstone
Genre: Fiction, Historical fiction
Pages: 455

The history of bees

The history of bees weaves together three stories from three different time periods.

We find William from England in 1852 who is a biologist with deteriorating health who works on building a new kind of beehive.

There’s George, a beekeeper from the United states in 2007 that is fighting the changing times of bee farming.

And Tao from China in 2098 that works as a pollinator after the bees have all disappeared.

The book as a whole I’m afraid is going to be very difficult for me to review as I have extremely mixed feelings about it.

While the topic of the importance of bees is an interesting and important one, I felt something was missing, something like, interest and excitement in some form. The book was well written but incredibly sloooooooow. Nothing really happens in the 455 pages that I can’t summarize in 10 sentences or less and not miss any relevant storyline.

At the same time, the slow burn is what makes the book feel good. It has a romantic slow pace that relaxes you in some way and it feels soothing and comforting. Maybe it’s the hundreds of years span that makes it all feel very large and small at the same time. I’m not really sure how I feel about it all, it’s a love and hate relationship.

And while there are three stories, and I feared it might be hard to keep track of three separate narratives and all their sub characters, it isn’t at all. It’s very easy and you can tell just by the tone of the narrator which chapter you’re in. That to me is a mark of a great writer, the distinction of the voice in the characters. And still, nothing happens, and everything that happens is painfully predictable.

Since nothing is happening, you can just enjoy the beautiful language draw out before you, but you can’t help but yawn at the fact that it’s going nowhere.

I loved it and I hated it and I found it special, but I was bored.



(I read this book in Norwegian and so the review is based on this copy.)