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A Recipe for Bees: A Novel
ISBN 0385720483 / 9780385720489 / 0-385-72048-3
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Augusta Olsen has seven cats, a son-in-law in the hospital "for tests," and a husband who never says what he is thinking. A Recipe for Bees looks back over her life story, from a childhood on a farm in rural Canada through various waves of premonition and loss. As a young girl she is infatuated with the handsome and mysterious Joe, but all she has left of him is a pendant: a bee frozen in amber. When her mother dies, she marries Karl, who loves her so much that his face reddens when he looks at her. He makes her feel safe and irritable. Only late in life when she rediscovers her mother's beekeeping equipment does Augusta find a true opening into the past, as she spends hours out among the swarms, observing how "a handful of bees felt for all the world like a handful of warm black currants."
A Recipe for Bees is most original and compelling in such passages, which have inherent metaphoric power. It is not for readers seeking the overtly provocative--Gail Anderson-Dargatz stays within a passionate but circumscribed set of images and emotions. A prizewinner for her previous novel The Cure for Death by Lightning, the author will appeal to readers who understand the power of everyday tragedies. --Emily White [via]