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Book DetailsISBN: 9781925266139
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Book Review: Beekeeper's Secret by Josephine Moon - Reviewed by CloggieA (23 Mar 2016)
The Beekeeper’s Secret is the third book by Australian author, Josephine Moon. Tansy Butterfield is about to turn thirty, and she wants to turn her birthday party into a reunion for extended family. Her mother Enid, and her aunt Florrie have been estranged from their sister Maria ever since she left home, aged sixteen, to enter the convent. Unbeknownst to the sisters, Tansy has managed to track down the former nun to Honeybee Haven in the Noosa hinterland, only an hour’s drive away.
Maria Lindsey is happy tending to her hives, her guest cottages and her honey products for the markets because every cent goes to a Cambodian Orphanage. When Tansy’s letter arrives, Maria is hesitant: she’s not at all sure she wants to get involved with a niece she has never met, especially if it means seeing her sisters again, because she knows she doesn’t deserve the comfort of family. If she needed a reminder of that, the official letter that came in the same mail brings it resoundingly home.
Maria knows events will soon leave her no choice, but Tansy’s surprise visit to Honeybee Haven presents her with a sympathetic ear: she feels it is time to share her guilty secret. What will happen to the Orphanage’s only source of income when the secret she has kept so long is finally revealed?
George Harvey is the Investigating Officer for Prosecutor Blaine Campbell, and he is determined to see their high-profile defendant prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The crimes may be forty years old, but he is confident of getting witness testimony that will put the offender behind bars. But the exhumation that results from his hunch yields a surprise or two, as does the confession of a certain witness.
When her secret meetings with Maria are revealed, the family gathers at Tansy’s home to demand answers, and suddenly everyone is revealing things they have withheld: pregnancy (out of fear of the results of early genetic tests), long-distance relocation necessitated by work and doubts about career choices leading to Uni course deferral. Family members are confessing to infidelity leading to possible divorce, faecal incontinence and losing their lifelong religious faith.
Readers may be confident of knowing Maria’s secret early on, but Moon gives them a twist that few will see coming. Her characters are appealing and realistically flawed; their dialogue is natural; and the setting is expertly conveyed. Moon touches on a very topical subject as well as some age-old ones. There is an abundance of secrets, some necessarily kept because there was no alternative; there is plenty of guilt, and, of course, there are bees, lots of bees. An interesting, thought-provoking and heart-warming read. With thanks to TheReadingRoom and Allen&Unwin for this copy to read and review. 5 stars
Josephine Moon's first novel, The Tea Chest (2014), delighted readers with its strong heroine and enchanting story and was a bestseller both in Australia and overseas. Her second novel, The Chocolate Promise (2015), was a love-story with a difference set in luscious Provence and rural Tasmania and was also a bestseller. The Beekeeper's Secret, a novel of family and the happiness, guilt and grief that can lie within them, is her third novel. Josephine lives with her husband, son and her horses, dogs, chickens, goats and cats on acreage in Queensland.
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