From the publisher:
Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank’s Carolina Lowcountry in this evocative tale that returns at long last to her beloved Sullivan’s Island.
Beekeeper Holly McNee Jensen quietly lives in a world of her own on Sullivan’s Island, tending her hives and working at the local island library. Holly calls her mother The Queen Bee because she’s a demanding hulk of a woman. Her mother, a devoted hypochondriac, might be unaware that she’s quite ill but that doesn’t stop her from tormenting Holly. To escape the drama, Holly’s sister Leslie married and moved away, wanting little to do with island life. Holly’s escape is to submerge herself in the lives of the two young boys next door and their widowed father, Archie.
Her world is upended when the more flamboyant Leslie returns and both sisters, polar opposites, fixate on what’s happening in their neighbor’s home. Is Archie really in love with that awful ice queen of a woman? If Archie marries her, what will become of his little boys? Restless Leslie is desperate for validation after her imploded marriage, squandering her favors on any and all takers. Their mother ups her game in an uproarious and theatrical downward spiral. Scandalized Holly is talking to her honey bees a mile a minute, as though they’ll give her a solution to all the chaos. Maybe they will.
Queen Bee is a classic Lowcountry Tale—warm, wise and hilarious, it roars with humanity and a dropperful of whodunit added for good measure by an unseen hand. In her twentieth novel, Dorothea Benton Frank brings us back to her beloved island with an unforgettable story where the Lowcountry magic of the natural world collides with the beat of the human heart.
If you are looking for a book to immerse yourself in, to be entertained by, and if you love quirky characters as much as I do, then this is your book! Holly is a bit of a nutter, but in a very good way. She lives at home with her mother because she feels she must, it is her responsibility since her sister got married and moved away. Holly is also a beekeeper, and she talks to her bees and they seem to understand her. And they seem to act on her behalf. Even Holly can’t believe that’s true so yes, it strains credulity at times, but in a really fun way, so I was all in.
Archie is a bit of a stereotype; a single dad who is clueless about his own kids and easily taken in by a stone cold bitch. Holly thinks of Leslie as her opposite, and in many ways she is, but nonetheless they are sisters united by genetics and a common enemy. And the Queen Bee, who in lesser hands than Frank’s could have been more a caricature than a character, actually changes the most in this story.
The notion of neighbors taking care of one another is sweet and at one time, my neighborhood was very much like that. It made me yearn a bit for those days. But south Florida, where I live, is a transient place so there are only a few of the original families in my neighborhood still around. But the Lowcountry has magic of its own, and I love visiting there with Dorothea Benton Frank. This is a sweet, evocative read that is perfect for the beach. I loved it.
7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
QUEEN BEE by Dorothea Benton Frank. William Morrow (May 28, 2019). ISBN 978-0062861214. 432p.