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Jansson

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The History of Bees

The History of Bees - Maja Lunde I enjoyed this novel, even though I could see how the plot was going to develop from very early in the story. The two male characters nearly lose everything because of their inability to see what is right before their eyes, but they do come good in the end. That seems to be one of a number of themes, nearly losing everything and coming good in the end, not just in relation to relationships, but in relation to nature, agriculture, and of course bees. And also resilience, that is the resilience of the natural world. I think another one is actually two perverse sides of the one coin: our ability to stuff up nature and our apparent omnipotence to make this right.

Each of the stories reaches its own conclusion, while leading onto the next timeline, the link between them all being the construction of beehives. But the distinctive character of the timeline in the future is the letting go of bee husbandry and letting them just be bees. And maybe this is the most powerful message of all, the healing power of being able to let something or another being be its true self without trying to bend it to our will or purpose so that it can flourish.

I have to concede that the two male characters were probably the most infuriating and the least attractive characters. But I think they travelled the furthest in terms of their personal development and their familial relationships. And I still cared about what happened to them and their families.

As with most novels about animals, or having animals as a central theme, they usually have a lot to say about human nature. And this novel isn't any exception, having something to say about how humans as a species may deal with the consequences of climate change, or any widespread change for that matter.