I apologise in advance that is so late! I had promised myself that I would read and review our Book Club reads in the same month but unfortunately, November ran away without me and I only managed to finish The Death of Bees way towards the end of the month. So, without further ado, here is my review!
In the first instance, I would like to note why I have used an internet image for this post. Unfortunately, my library copy of this book came with a horrendous cover that almost associated the story with, what the literary world likes to call, 'women's fiction'. I would also like to note that The Death of Bees is not that at all - it's dark, and intense.
"We have seen death before, Marnie and I, a mountain of ice melting over time, drops of water freezing at your core reminding you every day of that which has vanished, but the despair we know today is a sadness sailing sorrow through every bone and knuckle.”
The Death of Bees follows various perspectives including a pair of sisters and their nosy next door neighbour, Lennie. The novel opens with the sisters burying their parents in the back garden and it is from here, that the narrative grows. Marnie and Nelly are truly unreliable narrators and this is something that I can really get on board with. In addition, their both wonderfully round characters with their own quirks, interests, and downfalls. Marnie is a highly intelligent adolescent tearaway with equally as troubled friends, and Nelly is a creative creature of habit with an impressive penchant for the violin.
I found O'Donnell's writing to be really unique and the book's short, choppy chapters made it incredibly easy to devour in just a single day. You rarely find good literary fiction that is - like The Death of Bees - both beautifully written and fast-paced. I didn't find any perspectives to be any stronger than the others, and I really appreciated this. Often with these kind of stories, you find yourself pining for certain perspectives and sometimes skipping others.
I'm glad to have been pushed to pick this up as it wouldn't have been something that I would have chosen myself (mainly because of the cover). However, it turned out to be highly enjoyable and I suggest that you give it a go if you like darker narratives.