THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES: The Movie vs. The Novel

Movie Poster
Movie Poster

Dear Reader,

Does the movie The Secret Life of Bees reflect the novel it’s based on? Yes and no. Yes because all the characters are present, and Lilly and August are still main characters. And because there still is Lilly’s quest to unearth memories of her mother, and there are the bees, and bigotry and poverty and black men and women who defy stereotype. There’s even that line from the novel that stunned me: “Before coming here, my whole life had been nothing but a hole where my mother should have been…”

And no, the movie doesn’t reflect the novel. The Black Madonna’s significance in August and her sisters’ lives shows up as a comedic interlude rather than as a bubbling story that fully revealed toward the end of the novel. The bees are there, as I said, and August loves and respects them, but the perfect purpose of each bee’s life doesn’t shine the way it does in the novel.

Did the movie move me in the same the novel did? No, but I was moved – to tears – when Lilly (Dakota Fanning) confessed she was unlovable. I owe this to Fanning’s right-on acting in this scene. But, do I recommend that you, dear reader, see The Secret Life of Bees? Yes… and no.


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November 2008
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Photo Credits: Header - Barbara McNichol, Author - Bernadette Garcia

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