Laline Paull || The Bees

An allegory in which animals are the main subject is not quite new: Orwell took us to Animal Farm and I can remember cute little rabbits living on a hill who even made it to a movie (and an awful Art Garfunkel song). Paull brings something new to this succesful genre: an animal we not normally associate with cuddliness,the bee. Fiona 717 and her fellow bees become almost cuddly, her ‘engine’ and her sting make you realize she can also be very aggressive and prepared to go to extremes to defend the hive and the queen. What I loved about The Bees is the way Paull contrasted the almost totalitarian state of the hive and the intricate internal system the bees use to show each other where the best honey can be found, what task they have to perform and their extreme sense of smell. Those descriptions border on the lyrical and contrast heavily with the corrupt way the hive is lead by a small group of high ranking bees. Fiona 717,a mere sanitation bee, is kept stupid simply by not feeding her as much as the more priviliged bees. The moment she eats more, her senses develop. Nature versus nurture one might say. Fiona 717 is not just a plain sanitation bee. The moment she is born it becomes clear that she is destined to do something special. Towards the end of the novel, when Fiona has already grown into an important forager her final role becomes clear: a beautiful one which I shall not reveal. You just have to read The Bees yourself. Paull also shows the way the human world and the ‘bee’ world collide: bees dying of poison, the human abruptly taking away the honey causing death and destruction, the wasps becoming even more aggressive through eating too much sugar. To be frank, I did not really care for all the bloody fights, they are just not my piece of cake. They are sufficiently¬†compensated however by the beautiful descriptions of dances, flowers and the characters of some bees: Sir Linden who turns out to be quite alright, the vicious Sage or adventurous Lily. I really enjoyed this novel which did not just give me pleasure in words and imagery, it also made me look more kindly on bees.



About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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One Response to Laline Paull || The Bees

  1. Pingback: The Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction Recap: Laline Paull || The Bees | booksandliliane

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