This has to be one of the saddest most heartfelt books that I have ever read.
Part beekeepers textbook, part murder mystery, you are brought headfirst into the world of Albert Honig and his neighbors the Bee Ladies. It is not the ladies plural that Albert is enthralled with, it is one lady in particular. Claire brought lightness to Albert and I believe that the Kierkegaard quote “I was too heavy for her and she was too light for me”, is the best way to sum up their relationship.
Looking back over his life, Albert tell the story of his neighbors, beginning on the day that he found their bound lifeless bodies in the living room, back to his childhood and on to the final moment that he had to tell his bees “Little Brownie, Little Brownies your Mistress is dead”.
This book is not an easy read; at its center, it is heartbreaking. Albert Honig, an unmarried 80-year-old man, has lived his entire life in his childhood home in Southern California. His world is humble, his needs are simple - it is just him and his bees. Hives dot his yard and as the story of his relationship with his family, the Straussman sisters next door and the world of beekeeping is told, you see what a very unassuming life this man has lead.
As Detective Grayson investigates the murders, the stories of Albert and Claire are told. In its joys and sorrows, you see two very damaged people. People that no matter how they try are doomed to an unrequited life.
Albert states that he does not need more than toast with honey and a good book to end the day. As the reader delves further into their lives, you see that there is so much more. Intertwining the on goings in a hive and the lives of Claire and Albert, you cannot help but to see that they were all intermeshed. We each have a part to play, a purpose, some are the queens with others doing their bidding and some are the drones that are destined to give their all.
This is the type of book that deserves multiple readings. The subtleties are easily missed until the end where all the threads are interwoven and reader finally sees the bigger picture.