I read this book a couple of years ago for a book club and really enjoyed it. However, recently a different book club that I now participate in selected this title, so I decided to read it again. And, guess what? Though I do not think it is an outstanding read, I did still enjoy it just as much the second time around.
Kidd tackles an interesting combination of topics in her book . . . racism and religion! Lily, a young teenager, cannot forget her mother, a women who was taken from the world in a horrible accident when Lily was really young. In the place of her mother is Rosaleen, an African-American woman with lots of spunk and guts for her time . . . in fact, it is her spunk that lands her in jail! Lily decides to break Rosaleen out and they escape to the small town of Tiburon, South Carolina . . . a place that has some random connection to Lily's very own mother. Both are housed by three eccentric sisters that own a bee farm, finding a home that they never knew existed before. And, Lily begins to discover herself and the past that has been haunting her for many years.
Racism as faced by African-Americans in the 1960's, the Black Madonna, the amazing power of women . . . all a theme of the book. In ways, it reminds me of the book, The Rent Tent by Anita Diamant, but yet they are both so different. Both focus on the influence of women in our lives; however, I do not believe that Kidd's book is on the same level as Diamant's. With that said, I would recommend the book and do intend to read Kidd's second novel, The Mermaid Chair, at some point in time in the future. I enjoyed the way she wrote, the humor she interjected, and the overall way she can tell a story.