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Review: Murmur of Bees: A Novel by Sofia Segovia

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My Interest

This book, free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers, caught my attention when I was trolling through my Kindle to see what I had in translation. I struck gold for this a Women in Translation Month–appropriate book! I splurged and bought the audio narration and it was well worth it, for this is a longer-than-average book. 470 pages used to be pretty average, but with the change of centuries books just started getting shorter on average.“We walk without looking back, because on this journey, all we care about is our destination.”

“We walk without looking back, because on this journey, all we care about is our destination.”

The Story

Simonopio is found abandoned as an infant, with a cleft palate or other facial disfigurement, and covered in bees. He is taken in by a local land-owning family and raised as their own. Meanwhile, all around them in Mexico revolution is raging and the Spanish ‘flu of 1918 is doing its own damage. Simonopio and the rest of his adopted- Morales family go on with their lives, taking what is dealt out to them.

“The miracle would have been if those arrogant fools with the fate of the country in their hands had listened in time to the voices of the experts. Now it was too late.”

My Thoughts

I laughed at some of the comments about it being too long, with too many characters. We have become a nation of lazy readers! The story is slow–it has an old-world pace to it. I did not find there were too many characters, though, it did take me a while to understand who one of them “was.” There were times when a sort of folklore tale took over and I did nearly quit in that scene. The family saga, though, kept me going–I wanted to know what happened to the family.

I have studied little of Mexican politics, but this revolution was among what I did encounter in college so I was aware of the setting. It is helpful, but not necessary to making sense of the story. This book made me truly aware that Texas and California were once truly part of Mexico. No reason for that to be the case–it just really hit me. Like most Americans today who are not of Mexican heritage. I suppose, Those two huge states, along with neighboring Arizona and, of course, New Mexico, have always been part of the U.S. Woodrow Wilson sent troops down to the boarder during this revolution.

The Murmur of Bees by Sofía Segovia and translated by Simon Bruni

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