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Book review: New York, honey

JEN MEAD
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2014
Wedding bees
ALL ABUZZ: The Wedding Bees is a great novel if you love New York, honey and the kindness of strangers.

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I'm a huge fan of our own Sarah-Kate Lynch, but I have to say that two of her more recent novels (Dolci di Love and The House of Peine) weren't up to her usual standard.

The Wedding Bees marks a return to  Lynch at her best. It's also the second of her novels set in my (and her) favourite city - New York.

Lynch's protagonists are always slightly quirky, off-the-wall heroines. They are at once endearing and frustrating, charming and mulish. Despite the up-beat, humorous tone of the books, the women always have a troubled past.

However, Lynch has the enviable gift of being able to write about sad events in a funny way, without robbing the event of its poignancy or impact over our heroine and those surrounding her.

Each novel is also tied to a theme. Eating with the Angels focussed on the cuisine of Venice and New York, By Bread Alone on sourdough, Blessed Are on cheese, On Top of Everything on afternoon tea, and so on. The Wedding Bees theme is - you guessed it - bees.

The Wedding Bees' protagonist is Sugar Wallace, a nomad who roams the United States from coast to coast, her destinations dicated by the residents of her beehive. Only Lynch could conceive of a heroine who has her own travelling beehive, the queen of which is a succession of Elizabeths. We join Sugar and her hive during the reign of Elizabeth the Sixth, but our journey through Sugar's past introduces us to the history of the monarch's predecessors.

Unshakeably optimistic and cheerful despite the secret in her past that keeps on her on the move, Sugar and her bees move into an apartment building in Manhattan, where she soon discovers that her grumpy and taciturn neighbours are each, in their own ways, prisoners of their past or of their fears. Driven by an unknown impulse, Sugar and the wonderful products she creates from her bees' honey eventually warm the hearts of even the most reticent of the buildings' residents.

But what is Sugar refusing to see in her own life, her own past... her own fears?

Some people refer to Lynch as chick lit, a label I don't altogether disagree with. However - to torture a cliche - her novels have something for everyone.

In the case of The Wedding Bees, if you love New York, honey, and the kindness of strangers, this is the novel for you. And if you read it, and love it, then I highly recommend my other Sarah-Kate favorites - Eating With The Angels, By Bread Alone and On Top of Everything.


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