Monday, 29 August 2016

BOOK REVIEW | 'The Beekeeper's Secret' by Josephine Moon (****)

Hello readers, and happy Monday! Today I am really excited to be able to share with you another book review - this time of the wonderful The Beekeeper's Secret by Josephine Moon. I was sent this book a few months ago by Allen & Unwin, along with a Burts Bees lipbalm and a mini pot of honey - so top marks from me! I saw the cover of the book on Twitter and was immediately entranced by it. However, when I picked up the book and started reading, I discovered that The Bee keeper's Secret was so much more than a pretty book cover...

Published last month, The Beekeeper's Secret follows the lives of beekeeper and ex-nun Maria and her niece Tansy as their quiet, relatively peaceful lives are, violently and without warning, disrupted by the past. Maria is shocked when her niece Tansy turns up out the blue, having long ago lost touch with the entirety of her family, and her peaceful, solitary life suddenly becomes littered with complications. Tansy has problems in her own life to deal with, but when Maria's past suddenly comes hurtling into her present, she has to stick by her aunt as the truth comes out, and a terrible dark secret threatens to destroy everything.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Maria Lindsey has secrets to hide. Living on top of a secluded mountain is a good way to hide from the world... until her past begins to track her down. The surprising and intriguing new novel about the astounding secrets we keep from those we love.

'Maria knew about guilt. It was a stubborn, pervasive and toxic emotion, and incredibly difficult to shake. Especially if really, deep down, you didn't think you deserved to let it go.'

Maria Lindsey is content. She spends her solitary days tending her bees and creating delicious honey products to fund orphaned children. A former nun, her life at Honeybee Haven has long been shaped by her self-imposed penance for terrible past events. But the arrival of two letters heralds the shattering of Maria's peaceful existence.

Pushing aside the misgivings of her family and friends, Tansy Butterfield, on the eve of her marriage, made a serious deal with her adored husband, Dougal. A deal she'd intended to honour. But, seven years on, Tansy is finding her current feelings difficult to ignore. And on top of those not-really-there feelings, Dougal wants to move to Canada!

With captivating characters and an intriguingly tangled mystery, The Beekeeper's Secret celebrates families in all their joys and complications.
 

Adult contemporary fiction is one of my favourite genres and I'm so thankful to have discovered Josephine Moon - the story along with the writing style of The Beekeeper's Secret was so fantastic and I can't wait to check out her other books. In her Goodreads bio Moon describes her books as being 'like a good chocolate brownie - rich, comforting, uplifting, but with a few chunky nuts to chew on'. I definitely thought this was true of The Beekeeper's Secret - it was a warm, comforting story yet had a searing emotional edge that had me really feeling for the characters and turning the pages ferociously to find out what happened next.

I loved the array of characters in the story and they were all so well-developed and endearing. In particular I loved Tansy and Leo and their relationship was so special. George was also a fantastic character and his story gave a mysterious, gritty edge to the novel. I loved the way that the different characters' stories intertwined, and finally collided at the end of the novel, making each character become more connected to the wider community and important themes of the novel. The Beekeeper's Secret is a fantastically told story which shows the complexities of family life, with all its ups and downs, and the beauty and unconditional love that lies beneath its complications.

The way that Moon created a book about beekeeping, abuse in the Catholic church and family secrets is applaudable, and it was done in such a fantastic way that the topics seemed made to fit together. The chapters about the abuse in the Catholic church were really well done and were so intensely written. The mystery was fantastically concealed and Moon kept me in suspense throughout almost the entirety of the book. I learned so much whilst reading the book, and it's safe to say that I have a newfound and heartfelt appreciation for bees! Moon managed to pack so much information into The Beekeeper's Secret without making it a chore to read; I felt like Maria was sitting by me, patiently explaining how to care for bees and what fantastic creatures they are. Passion and wonderment exuded from each and every page. 

The setting of the book (the sunshine coast, Queensland, Australia) was beautifully described and each detail was perfect in its descripton. The quaint town, the mountains and gorgeous scenery came to life in The Beekeeper's Secret and it was such a facinating place to read about, feeding really well into the story as a whole.

The only reason why this book is a 4* instead of a 5* is only because there is one section in the book where all of the family secrets are revealed - simultaneously. I like the idea of each member of the family having a secret to conceal, however I thought it was a bit much that each secret would be revealved to the reader (and to the other members of the family) at exactly the same time. This is just my opinion, however, and other readers might have really enjoyed this part :)

Overall, I really enjoyed The Beekeeper's Secret and I would highly recommend reading it, or any other of Josephine Moon's books if you haven't already. She is certainly a heavyweight in Australian fiction and I am definitely going to check her other books out :)

Buy The Beekeeper's Secret here.

Check out Josephine Moon here: https://josephinemoon.com/

Until next time :)