"Take all the money from my wallet but tell this story to my children. They only know pieces of it. It's time for them to know all of it. Tell them I loved them very much, that they were worth the years I spent without seeing my brother. Tell them to walk in the shade. To listen with their eyes, to see with their skin, and to feel with their ears, because life speaks to us all and we just need to know and wait to listen to it, see it, feel it."
I am always on the lookout for a story so beautifully told it takes my breath away. This is how I felt about "The Murmur of Bees", by Sofia Segovia and translated by Simon Bruni. These are the books I find the most difficult to write about.
Set in an area of northern Mexico, with ground fertile not only for growing sugar cane and maize, but for superstitious tales and rumors of witches roaming in the night. One morning when a beloved elderly Nana is discovered missing, a search party is sent to find her. Nana Reja is found under a bridge holding a mysterious bundle; a second bundle beside her. When the swaddling is removed, a baby is discovered wrapped in a blanket of bees. In the second bundle a hive is found. Nana Reja is insistent both the baby and the hive be taken back to the hacienda. Some who viewed the strange child with the facial deformity, thought him to be evil. Word spread he had been "kissed by the devil." The old nana believed differently. The wealthy landowners Beatrix and Francisco Morales became his Godparents, named him Simonopio and cared for him as their own son.
With his bees always with him, leading and teaching, Simonopio discovers he can see, hear and feel the future. His extraordinary gifts prove to be beneficial in sensing danger and protecting the Morales family during a time the world is being ravaged by the Spanish flu pandemic and with a revolution brewing. Ultimately he will need to use his gifts to protect himself from the one who he knows as "the coyote."
"The Murmur of Bees", Sofia Segovia's first novel to be translated to English, has all the characteristics of a page turner: mystery, tragedy, magical realism and family drama, and yet, it is not a quick read. At almost five hundred pages, this is a book deserving of attention and patience. Like so many of my favorite books, my heart ached when I turned the last page. It was not the ending I had hoped for, yet it was the perfect ending. The last one hundred pages are beautiful; I immediately reread those last chapters just to more fully absorb, appreciate and ponder the beauty of it's conclusion.