The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

The most recent book of the month in my book group was The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell. The author won the Orange Screenwriting Prize in 2000 for her screenplay The Wedding Gift. Recently she took a break from screenwriting when she moved to LA with her two children. The Death of Bees is her first novel.

The Death of Bees centres around Marnie and her little sister Nelly. The girls have always been different. Marnie leads a life of smoking, drinking and drugs; Nelly enjoys playing the violin, eating cornflakes with Coke and reading Harry Potter. But on Christmas Eve, the sisters have to join forces and put their differences aside. And when Lennie, the old guy next door, starts to get suspicious. He cares for them during their parents’ absence but it’s only a matter of time before their terrible secret is discovered.

This novel gets off to an explosive start and I had great hopes for it. Unfortunately, that hope evaporated quickly and the story became quite pedestrian quickly. I think the book would fare better if considered as a YA or cross-over read. It is certainly an easy read, but I did not enjoy the book very much. It has some most unpleasant scenes that I did not enjoy and the story was too predictable to make these scenes worthwhile.

With regret, I cannot recommend The Death of Bees.

Val Penny

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