“The Murmur of Bees” by Sofía Segovia is a beautifully written book.
Literary translator Simon Bruni worked real magic when he converted the story from Spanish into English – it never felt like reading a translation.
I only wish I could read the original, too!
The story begins in Mexico during the early 1900s. A baby is found under a bridge, covered in bees. What should be horrifying is miraculous – the child has a special connection to them, they help him to see what others can’t and provide his voice.
The Morales family takes the baby in as their own, despite the superstition and hate that surrounds the child.
And their own fate is changed forever.
In the background, the country is shifting. The Mexican Revolution has begun and as landowners, the Morales family needs a way to keep hold of their land – their agricultural way of life in the balance.
The country is also hit by the Spanish Influenza. An eerie but fascinating thing to read when you’re living through a different pandemic!
There is a real darkness to it
I couldn’t help but compare the book to “One Hundred Years Of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez – the beautiful writing, magical realism and a generational lens all coming together to create an enchanting, gently unwinding tale.
While “The Murmur of Bees” doesn’t span as many generations, it starts with Nana Reja, a nanny who nobody can even remember being young and ends with… well that would be telling.
The chapters move forward and backward through time, but this never feels jarring – it’s as though you’re hearing the story directly from the family themselves. The way they would tell it to a friend over dinner.
Of course, while much of the story feels light and charming, there is a real darkness to it. The bitterness and hatred from one of the characters in particular looms as an inevitability.
I highly recommend this book – I can still clearly picture the boy with his bees months after finishing his story.
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