Translated by Simon Bruni
Once in a while, I hope to stumble upon a book that surprises me at different stages of its reading making sure I am paying attention to the fact that it is not exactly going the way I thought it would. At such times, I also hope to enjoy the experience and that it should teach me something about something I had not thought about before. This was one such book.
When I started reading it, the introduction to the abandoned child and the abandoned woman each finding solace in the same family few generations apart it reminded me of Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield and mentally shelving it under the magical realism genre, I thought I would not like it as much as I did that one. As I mentioned earlier, this was just one of the ways that I was wrong. The only thing even slightly beyond the realm of ‘human’ understanding is the bond between our boy Simonopio and his bees. The rest of the story is about the ties of a family which strains at times but when required, they deviate from their solo paths to help each other out. There are many people we hear from and it is not exactly a dual timeline but swings between times just to keep us hooked. Most of it is an old man’s memory and the bulk of the story lies in a troubled past. Amidst changing political climates and financial strain one family works the best way they know how. There are heartrending moments as we watch them live through decades. Many of the members of the family are people you can get attached to very quickly, the tale moves as tendrils from one person to another taking us through so many emotions and so many situations while at the same time keeping a common goal: the boy and his bees. I did not expect to enjoy it as much and in the ways that I actually ended up doing, I had a tear in my eye as I read the last page and closed the screen. I am extremely glad that someone took the trouble to translate it and introduce it to an English speaking audience(for my personal enjoyment). It was slow in spots but the rest of it was worth it. It even snuck in slight humour like this statement
“…The horse in question had made use of the road to purge its intestine of its aromatic load”
Read this for people and the bonds they form, either by birth or by heart while staying true to the traditions of their land.
I received an ARC thanks to the publishers and NetGalley but this review is entirely my own reaction to the reading experience.
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