This powerful debut novel delicately blurs the line between truth and fiction as Carol unravels the fantastical stories of her mentally ill grandfather. When she and her family move to his deserted ranch in order to transfer him to a care home, Carol struggles to cope with the suffocating heat and the effects of her grandfather’s dementia. Bees seem to be following her around, but the drought means this is impossible. She must be imagining things.
Yet when her grandfather chooses her as the subject for his stories – tales of a magical healing tree, a lake, and the grandmother she never knew – Carol sees glimmers of something special in what her parents dismiss as Serge’s madness. As she rethinks her roots and what she thought she knew about her family, Carol comes to the realization that Serge’s past is quickly catching up with her present. A stunning coming-of-age story.
How did I get the book?
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Genre: Magical Realism / Contemporary
Review: Carol (or Carolina) and her family are spending the summer cleaning and clearing up her grandfather’s sheep farm (ranch?) so he can be moved into a care home. Her grandfather and father did not part on good terms and there are many things in her family’s past that Carol does not know.
Hour of the Bees is worth sticking with. I personally didn’t really connect with the story until quite a bit into the book. I think it was around the time Carol’s grandfather began telling the first part of his story, the ‘once upon a time, there was a tree’. It’s then that the magic and reality begin to mix and you begin to wonder, just like Carol, if her grandfather is telling you real history or his lost in his dementia.
I particularly liked Carol’s relationship with her grandfather, but also how the dynamics within her family changed as the summer ended and how Carol grew as a character.