My latest read is The History of Bees by Maja Lunde, a Norwegian author and screenwriter. Maja Lunde has written 11 books for children’s and young adults and this is her first novel for adults in a planned Climate Quartet series.
I picked up the book on holiday from the recommendation of my mum’s local bookseller and read the French version Une histoire des abeilles.
The History of Bees connects the stories of three different people at three different times in history. The common link, you will have guessed, is bees.
William is a biologist and seed merchant with a fascination for bees and sets out to design a new type of beehive. His story is set in England in 1851. George is a professional beekeeper, living in 2007 in modern America. He fights against modern farming but finds it hard to keep his business alive. And then there is Tao, living in a dystopian future, in China 2098.
Tao’s character really hooked me to this novel. Post ecological collapse, bees have disappeared and humans are used to hand pollinating trees and crops. This is by far the most thought provoking storyline, with 2098 looking like a not so-distant future. The decline in bee and insect populations links back to both Tao and George.
The stories of the three characters switch back and forth from chapter to chapter, with Lunde also exploring relationships between parents, children, nature and humankind. The destinies of William, George and Tao are cleverly intertwined but you only find out how near the end of the book.
Sometimes a little too close to reality for comfort, The History of Bees ends on a message of hope. This is a unique and compelling novel which I really enjoyed. Intriguing and mesmerising, this is the type of book that keeps you wondering and thinking well after you finish it. You can find it here on Amazon, Audible or Hive.