cover image The History of Bees

The History of Bees

Maja Lunde. Touchstone, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-1-5011-6137-7

In her first adult novel, Norwegian children’s author Lunde posits an apocalyptic future, weaving together stories on three continents in three different time periods that revolve around honeybees. In 2098, Tao, a human pollinator for fruit trees in a world devoid of bees, struggles along with her husband to make ends meet. She’s is devoted to her three-year-old son, Wei-Wen, who suddenly has a mysterious and catastrophic accident. In 1851, William Savage, a father of eight in Hertfordshire, England, believes he has finally come up with an ingenious design for the perfect beehive, which will not only save the family from financial decline but will also bond him with his only son, Edmund. George, a beekeeper in 2007 Ohio, is desperate to have his son, Tom, take over the family business, even though Tom is pursuing an academic career. George prides himself on his work and the hand-built hives that have been in his family for generations, but everything changes when disaster strikes apiaries across the U.S. As the author adroitly switches back and forth among the intense stories, she explores the link between parents and children, and the delicate balance of expressing parental expectations versus allowing grown children to follow their own passions. There is also the strong theme about the potentially bleak outcome for a world that ignores the warning signs of environmental catastrophe and allows honeybees to disappear. Lunde’s novel provides both a multifaceted story and a convincing and timely wake-up call.[em] (Aug.) [/em]