The Music of Bees is a fictious novel about how honey bees influence the life of 3 individuals and it includes much about keeping bees. The author, Eileen Garvin. is an Or Apprentice Master Beekeeper. Currently she has 3 colonies, now in her 8th year keeping bee, in Hood River, Oregon, the setting of the novel.
If you want to get “hooked” into continuing reading a novel, the first chapter is masterful. It begins with a quote from none other than L.L.Langstroth and then provides a rich, deep introduction to wheel-chair bound teenager Jake Stevenson, paralyzed from the waist down in a freak accident. The accident dashed his dream of a music future. His unhealthy home family dynamic is a classic lost in inner space beginning. Then Jake accidentally meets beekeeper Alice Holtzman.
Author Eileen Garvin introduces 44 year old Alice in Chapter 2. Alice is working in an unsatisfactory Hood County Planning Commission job where she is overworked and under appreciated. She is unsettled from the unexpected death of her husband. Her path crosses Jakes as she is rushing to get home before dark with a dozen Russian nucs, after a frustrating delay at the nuc pick up site.
When she faces a crossroads at her Planning Commission day job, Alice begins to seriously consider what she really wants to do – which is to keep honeybees as a full-time pursuit along with a fruit orchard business. But her parents sold the family orchard and 24 colonies won’t pay the bills. After she takes Jake in and he proves handy listening to bees, both of their destinies change. Jake turns out to be a bee whisperer.
There is a 3rd party in the story. Twenty four year old Harry Stokes responds to Alice’s employee wanted post. He is a lost soul with an acute social anxiety and inferiority complex. Alice helps him sort out his life. Columbia River wind surfer Yogi also provides Harry with a purpose.
The challenges of the bees become almost a 4th character in this warm story about three strangers in a rural Oregon town, each working through grief, brought together by honeybees. Details of how bees live and their care are detailed and add to the fascination of the characters. Along the way we have a nice description of the Hood River area. [For a different look at bee pollination in the Hood River valley see National Honey Board You tube: Celebrating Beekeeping: The Importance of Pollination]
This novel is about fighting for what is right. Alice, again by accident, gets involved in a campaign to halt use of a neonicotinoid bee-killing chemical pesticide, being introduced to the orchard farmers, after first-hand experience of their killing her bees. She enlists neighbors, local beekeepers, Jake, Harry and Yogi to stage a protest. I won’t spoil the ending but it is one of hope and future, not past and poor circumstances.
Music of Bees, Eileen’s first novel was an ABC TV “Good Morning America’s” Buzz pick, as a heartwarming and uplifting story. It also was a Good Housekeeping Book club Pick, People Magazine Best New Book. Washington Post Best Summer Read. Indie Next Pick, Library Reads Pick, a Christian Science Monitor Pick and was named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021. It was released as a paperback in 2022 and is audiobook and kindle. [Eileen would consider doing a zoom presentation to a bee club or book reading on Music of Bees].
And you are sure to enjoy the great beekeeping information supplied by Eileen.
Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin. Dutton hardback April, 2021, paperback April 2022. 336 pages. ISBN-13 978-0503183922