The Beekeeper’s Daughter – Dorset and Massachusetts – Santa Montefiore

SS

1930s Dorset

Young Grace is leading a happy life in a lovely country idyll where her father is the local beekeeper. 

when he suddenly dies however, Grace is left to  fend for herself and wonders where her future will lie.She has a choice to make between dependable Freddie or  Rufus -a man of somewhat mystery.

1970s America

Grace is now married and living in America. They have a daughter Trixie who falls in love with ‘someone unsuitable’ in the eyes of her parents – Jasper is a singer in a new band – not the kind of unstable life her parents would have envisaged.

However events are soon set to change things yet again as Jasper has to return to England quickly due to a family tragedy. He says he’ll call when things get settled.

But what happens next is not what Trixie or indeed her family would have expected. For Grace understands more than most what it means to have a secret love and changing your own destiny rather than let others do it for you.

The setting

garden

Santa Montefiore is the Queen of beautiful idyllic settings. Choosing Dorset has made me want to live there and not only that to keep bees. Up until reading this book I had always been a bit afraid of them but now I can honestly say that the whole business of keeping them and knowing what they do has been quite fascinating.

‘Mum what is is about bees that fascinates you so much?’ Trixie asked the third evening, after they had lifted the lids on the hives and Grace had explained all the tints a beekeeper has to look out for before putting them to be until spring’

flowers

Dorset really comes alive off the page and how I felt surrounded by the tall , willowy grass and flowers moving and making a sound –

One can hear the garden breathing in and out, in and out and it’s the most intriguing sound in the world. Truly? Can you really hear the garden breathing?

The setting really lends itself well to the tale of how Grace grew up here and the attachment she had not only to her environment but also to her father. This is her world and she does not want to leave it. 

The beauty and serenity of the garden are in direct contrast with the looming threat of war. Colours, smells and atmosphere are used to make the contrast all the more chilling – 

The light grew mellow and Grace wondered where this would be the last summer of life as she knew it. War was now certain.

The US setting

Nantucket or is is Tank
Nantucket or is is Tekanesset?

The idyllic Massachusetts island Tekanesset was modelled on the island of Nantucket. In the book Santa mentions that she loves to invent a setting purely so she can play with it  and what fun she has –

 Of all the weathered grey-shingled buildings on Tekanasset island, Crab Cove golf club is one of the prettiest. Built in the late nineteenth century by a couple of friends from Boston who shared the sentiment that an island without a golf course is an island deficient in the only thing that truly matters.. To the right a candy-cane red-and-white lighthouse stands on a grassy hill…

…and to the left yellow beaches and grassy sand dunes undulate like waves….

There is a particular line I liked as I felt Santa must have been smiling as she wrote it

Famous writers, actors and musicians from all over America escape the frenetic, polluted cities to breathe the fresh sea air and find inspiration in the beauty of the landscape….

The landscape here is romantic and wild and mirrors what will take place there. It is the island of dreams and throwing caution to the wind.

Oh could this be what lies at the edge of the island?
Oh could this be what lies at the edge of the island?

The Beekeeper’s daughter is a novel of setting and atmosphere which acts as the perfect backdrop for a family saga which spans the years from 1933 to 1990. There are the themes of lost love, forbidden love and love that threatens to change everything. It is the story of one mother and daughter whose pasts are intrinsically linked in ways neither of them could have known.

Like the bee who provides for her family, who searches far and wide to protect her hive but always returns to look after them, Grace and Trixie must search for their own answers a lot closer to home.

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