Synopses & Reviews
Sue Monk Kidds The Secret Life of Bees, a heartwarming coming of age tale set in 1960s South Carolina, a multi-million copy New York Times bestseller, now an award-winning film starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys
Fans of Kathryn Stocketts The Help and Beth Hoffmans Saving CeeCee Honeycutt will love Sue Monk Kidds Southern coming of age tale. The Secret Life of Bees was a New York Times bestseller for more than 125 weeks, a Good Morning America Read This” Book Club pick and was made into an award-winning film starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys. Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed.
When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's most vicious racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolinaa town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of lovea story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
"Biting yet optimistic, this first novel will knock you sideways with its Southern charm and quiet humanity." --O, The Oprah Magazine
"Charmaine Peake is struggling: with her mentally ill father, her difficult mother, the boy on the bus, her homemade purse and her relationship with God. Pneuman captures the voice of adolescence and the uncertainty of faith in this endearing novel."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“[A] marvelous dark and comic debut novel...Pneuman is a master of dark comedy, and the grimmer the material, the funnier it becomes in her twisted but capable hands. Like her literary ancestor, Flannery O'Connor, she shows how myopic allegedly religious people can be, but she doesn't take cheap shots at religion either.” –San Francisco Chronicle
"An affecting coming-of-age story...Pneuman's sharp, insightful writing reveals the myriad challenges life can throw in a young girl's path." --Marin Independent Journal
"Pneuman rarely allows slack in this taut storyline...Pneuman’s treatment of the ‘reality,’ or lack thereof, of divine communication is lovely and not in the least bit condescending. Readers are left to make their own judgments." --Kansas City Star
"Pneuman’s evocation of Charmaine and her surroundings is absolute and gripping, and her novel will please any lover of good fiction, especially those with a religious background and a sense of humor." -- Amber Peckham, Booklist
"Both a compassionate and uncompromising coming-of-age tale." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Pneuman uses potent prose in her intimate and intense debut novel." --Publishers Weekly
"I loved Lay It on My Heart. Angela Pneuman has written a funny and moving coming-of-age novel that explores the mysteries of faith and family with uncommon grace and wry wisdom." -- Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers
"You will stay up all night reading this brilliant and devastating novel the way you might have with a new best friend in junior high—one whose revelations thrilled and terrified you, and whose raw, hard-earned wisdom remade the way you saw the world. It evokes the genius of Angela Pneuman's canonical progenitors: Flannery O’Connor, Katherine Anne Porter, Walker Percy. Lay It on My Heart is a gorgeous, riveting, and unforgettable book." -- Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge and How to Breathe Underwater
"At the center of this stunning first novel is a family in crisis, a story that in Angela Pneuman's incredibly capable hands is both utterly original and nearly mythic in its powerful universality. A girl on the brink of adolescence, the only child of evangelists living in a small Kentucky town, watches the unraveling of her father's faith and her parents' marriage and discovers, in her necessary efforts to escape the attentions of her troubled mother, the dangers and promises of the secular world."—Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, Songs Without Words, and Swim Back to Me
“At stake in this must-read novel is the sanity of a modern-day prophet, the state of his God-ordained marriage, and, most of all, the painful coming-of-age of his daughter—our wise, perceptive narrator—in the evangelical territory of the rural South. Angela Pneuman brings searing psychological insight to the conflicts that draw people to extreme faith, keep them there, or force them to emerge—dazed, blinking and giving thanks. A profoundly moving, deeply compassionate, wickedly funny book.”—Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master’s Son
"Lay It On My Heart is a lovely book fully steeped in the quirks and growing pains of the changing South. With the biting humor of Flannery O'Connor and the empathic ear of Ellen Gilchrist, Pneuman creates characters who come alive off the page to fully pull you into their lives. A subtle, absorbing, funny portrait of the faith it takes to come of age and to love with grace from a masterful young writer." —Katie Crouch, New York Times bestselling author of Girls in Trucks and Abroad
“I know the voices of southern girls, and when they sing true, my heart expands. Angela Pneuman is a flute. She’s let the Big Breath blow through her to create a force of nature named Charmaine Peake, who then lets the spirit blow through her to tell a story about mothers and daughters and fathers, and how we all get lost, and how we might get found--or found-out, and how, ultimately, it's the courage to bear one another’s vulnerability that can save us. When I finished this book, I wanted to fold the narrator and the novelist into my arms, and tell them: what stellar gifts you are!" --Rebecca Wells, author, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood; Ya-Yas in Bloom; Little Altars Everywhere and The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder
"Angela Pneuman has the voice I have been waiting for: sure and graceful, earthy and edgy, heartbreaking and hopeful. It is this wholly unique voice, bolstered by wicked humor and a keen sense of character, that drives so deep into Flannery O’Connor’s Christ-haunted South. I feel nothing short of evangelical about this powerful debut; you’ll want LAY IT ON MY HEART on your 'keep forever' shelf." -- Joshilyn Jackson, bestselling author of Gods in Alabama, Someone Else’s Love Story, and others
Sue Monk Kidd is an extraordinary storyteller. In "The Secret Life of Bees," she explores a young girl's search for the truth about her mother; her courage to tear down racial barriers; and her joy as she claims her place within a community of women. "Beautifully written."--Ursula Hegi, author of "The Vision of Emma Blau."
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View our feature on Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees.
Sue Monk Kidd's ravishing debut novel has stolen the hearts of reviewers and readers alike with its strong, assured voice. Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's fiercest racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina—a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love—a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleansa novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets
When Ibby Bells father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her fathers urn for good measure. Fannies New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever beenand Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylumis like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannies black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.
For Fannies own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibbys arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbabys hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.
For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help, Dollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.
By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbaby is a novel readers will take to their hearts.
A wry, moving debut novel from a Stegner fellow and "one of the most gifted young writers around" (Lorrie Moore), Lay It on My Heart takes us through one unforgettable month in Charmaine Peake's thirteenth year as she comes to understand the complicated strength of mothers, the trials of faith, and the life-changing power of a true friend.
It's summer in Kentucky, the low ceiling of August pressing down on Charmaine Peake and the town of East Winder. Charmaine and her mother get along better with a room between them, but they've been forced by circumstances to relocate to a tiny trailer by the river. The last of a line of local holy men, Charmaine's father has turned from prophet to patient, his revelation lost in the clarifying haze of medication. Her sure-minded grandmother has suffered a stroke. At church, where she has always felt most certain, Charmaine is tested when she uncovers that her archrival, a sanctimonious missionary kid, carries a dark, confusing secret. Suddenly her life can be sorted into what she wishes she knew and what she wishes she didn't.
A moving, hilarious portrait of mothers and daughters, Lay It on My Heart brings us into the heart of a family weathering the toughest patch of their lives. But most of all, it marks out the seemingly unbearable realities of growing up, the strength that comes from finding real friendship, and the power of discovering—and accepting—who you are.
About the Author
Sue Monk Kidd
is the author of three novels, The Secret Life of Bees
, The Mermaid Chair
, and, most recently, The Invention of Wings
, which will be published by Viking in January 2014. The Secret Life of Bees
spent more than two and a half years on the New York Times
bestseller list, was adapted into an award-winning movie, and has been translated into thirty-six languages. The Mermaid Chair
, a #1 New York Times
bestseller, was adapted into a television movie. She is also the author of the memoirs The Dance of the Dissident Daughter
, When the Heart Waits
, and, with her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor, the New York Times
bestseller Traveling with Pomegranates
. Her early writings on spirituality are collected in the book Firstlight
. The recipient of numerous literary awards, Sue lives in southwest Florida with her husband, Sandy, and their black Lab, Lily.