REVIEW: THE BEEKEEPER'S SECRET BY JOSEPHINE MOON

Note, the format of my Short and Sweet reviews differs in that they simply comprise the book blurb and a short response (hence, the short and sweet).

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Josephine Moon’s first two books, The Tea Chest and The Chocolate Promise were a delight. The Beekeeper’s Secret is no less of a delight, with its heartfelt focus on forgiveness, family and friendship. Here’s the blurb:

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 from the bestselling author of The Tea Chest.

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!

Sweet and rich as honey, The Beekeeper’s Secret is a book for lovers of food and family. Moon has a knack for weaving together stories that charm readers from start to finish … and have them diving for a sweet treat (or a cup of tea). Family is at the forefront of this book, with Tansy serving as the catalyst for bringing Maria back into the family fold, even while her own relationship is foundering. This theme, of relationships hitting crisis points, is repeated with a number of characters, with all having to face their own responsibilities, choices and feelings of guilt.

The Beekeeper’s Secret explores some darker issues than Moon’s earlier books, but still maintains its light, easy-to-read feel. Having said that, the issue of child sex abuse in the Catholic church is raised and that may, for some readers, act as a trigger. Moon’s choice to explore the issue by way of a family reunion and long-held secrets doesn’t downplay any culpability but softens the approach. Bees and their importance to the (environment and humanity) also get a strong voice, through ex-nun Maria. I found this aspect fascinating – especially the parts where Maria collects honey and honeycomb and uses it to make natural skincare products and food.

Available from good bookstores (RRP $29.99AUD). My copy was courtesy of Allen & Unwin.