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The Death of Bees
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The Death of Bees
A Novel
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A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel, The Death of Bees is a coming-of-age story in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parentsMarnie and...
A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel, The Death of Bees is a coming-of-age story in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parentsMarnie and...
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Description-

  • A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel, The Death of Bees is a coming-of-age story in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents

    Marnie and Nelly, left on their own in Glasgow's Hazlehurst housing estate, attempt to avoid suspicion until Marnie can become a legal guardian for her younger sister.

    Written with fierce sympathy and beautiful precision, and told in alternating voices, The Death of Bees is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for each other.

 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • Lisa O'Donnell won the Orange Screenwriting Prize in 2000 for her screenplay The Wedding Gift. Her debut novel, The Death of Bees, was the winner of the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize. She lives in Scotland.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 22, 2012
    When 15-year-old Marnie Doyle finds her father’s body on the sofa of their seedy Glasgow home and her mother hanging in the garden shed, she and her younger sister, Nelly, decide to bury them both in the back garden, in British screenwriter O’Donnell’s debut novel. Fearing that social services will put them into foster care, the girls undertake a desperate charade; they claim that Gene and Isabel are off on a trip. Notorious druggies and neglectful parents, at first their purported abandonment seems plausible. That’s what Lennie, the lonely gay man next door, believes; though an indecency arrest in the neighborhood park has branded him a “pervert,” the girls accept his invitation to come under his wing, with food, shelter, and companionship. But his kindness can’t erase the damage that’s already been done: Nelly, a violin prodigy who was molested by her father, has nightmares and screaming fits. Though she gets straight As in school, Marnie starts selling drugs, drinking vodka daily, and having sex with a married man. The situation grows even darker when their sinister maternal grandfather, Robert MacDonald, insists on taking them in, which Lennie doesn’t like. But his battle with Gramps becomes complicated when Lennie is diagnosed with—but doesn’t disclose—a fatal illness. The sisters and Lennie narrate alternating chapters, moving the story along at a fast clip, but the author’s decision to give precocious Nelly a prissy vocabulary and a stilted, poetic delivery (“A white syringe. The coarsest cotton. It’s abominable”) makes her a less believable character, especially as Marnie’s voice is rife with expletives and vulgar slang. The difference between the sisters in terms of personality and maturity puts them at odds despite their shared fear of discovery. But their resilience suggests hope for their blighted lives. Agent: Alex Christofi, Corville and Walsh, U.K.

  • New York Times "In this first novel she pulls off the unusual pairing of grisly and touching."
  • Christian Science Monitor "O'Donnell walks a fine line, describing appalling events without ever allowing the novel to lose its warm heart....The Death of Bees is that rare thing: a family-values black comedy."
  • Houston Chronicle "Wild, witty and as funny as it is unsettling. The Death of Bees is really about the strength of sisters, the sparkle of imagination and how even the most motley of half lives can somehow coalesce into a shining whole."
  • Booklist (starred review) "O'Donnell's finely drawn characters display the full palette of human flaws and potential. Told in the alternating voices of Marnie, Nelly, and Lennie, this beautifully written page-turner will have readers fretting about what will become of the girls."
  • Examiner (Northern California) "[A] chiller told in three voices which will intrigue readers to the last pages...O'Donnell has done a masterful job of sketching her characters...The end is largely unexpected and highly dramatic, but at the same time is the perfect ending to this chilling tale...[a] brilliant book."
  • Publishers Weekly "With characters and voices the remind me of other strong debut novels (like Fates Will Find Their Way and Vaclav and Lena), this book will appeal to readers who like a strong voice, dark humor, and compelling story lines told in a literary yet accessible way."
  • Fort Worth Star-Telegram "Lisa O'Donnell, an award-winning screenwriter, grabs the reader from the get-go..."
  • RT Book Reviews "The author brilliantly paints the characters' best traits through the eyes of the other characters, and their worst traits through their own voices."
  • Shelf Awareness "O'Donnell's wildly original debut examines the intricacies of betrayal and loyalty within one family and their effects on two vulnerable young girls...With a gritty but redemptive take on family and the price of secrets, O'Donnell's debut will be well-received by fans of mainstream literature and Scottish noir mysteries alike."
  • Publishers Weekly (boxed review) "The sisters and Lennie narrate alternating chapters, moving the story along at a fast clip....The difference between the sisters in terms of personality and maturity puts them at odds despite their shared fear of discovery. But their resilience suggests hope for their blighted lives."
  • Spencer Daily Reporter "In more ways than the first line, The Death of Bees reminds me of Donoghue's Room. Maybe it's because both authors originated from the United Kingdom. Maybe it's because both stories carry a darkness brightened only by the innocence of the main characters.
  • The Hub "The quirky characters and thrilling plotlines will leave readers anxious to find out what will become of the girls. This poignant, compelling, and hopeful tale teaches readers that a desperate situation can always be alleviated by reaching out to others."
  • Bibliophage "This is a sweet, funny book filled with two sister's unrelenting love for each other and their determination to stay together at all costs...it is a good read and if you are interested in being taken on a crazy ride, this is the book for you."
  • Columbus Dispatch "As a gothic novel and a psychological look at the effects of trauma, it had verve and nerve...O'Donnell knows how to keep a reader engaged, and her sympathy — and hope — for her characters tempers what could have been a sordid tale."
  • Library Journal "Quirky characters with distinct voices enliven this sometimes grim and often funny coming-of-age story in the vein of Karen Russell's best seller Swamplandia! O'Donnell's debut is sure to be a winner."
  • Kirkus Reviews "An unusual coming-of-age novel that features two sisters who survive years of abuse and neglect....The author's experience as a screenwriter is most definitely apparent, as the reader always hears the voices and can visualize the dramatic, sometimes appallingly grim scenes. Recommended."
  • Alison Espach, author of The Adults "The Death of Bees is completely addictive. A beautiful and darkly funny story of two sisters building a fantasy within a nightmare."
  • Herald (Scotland) "The Death of Bees is compelling stuff, engaging the emotions from the first page and quickly becoming almost impossible to put down."
  • Scotsman "As the action reaches...

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