Like Bees to Honeyby Caroline Smailes
It was Juxtabook’s review of this book a couple of weeks ago, that made me pick this book up to read immediately, and she wasn’t wrong – this book is LOVELY!
It tells the story of Nina, a Maltese woman, whose rather traditional family disowned her when she got pregnant as a student in England. Marrying her baby’s father Matt didn’t help either. Some years on, she is drawn back to Malta, to see her family and ageing parents. Nina is depressed and grief-stricken and needs to lay her ghosts to rest, literally.
As Nina finds that Malta is both different and the same, we are treated to a tour of the island – all its best bits, as Nina sometimes feels like a tourist in the land of her birth. Through some innovative touches the author brings the island to life, but also its culture and spiritual side for Malta is a place to heal. Snatches of the Maltese language and their translations are wafted through the text, sometimes repeated, like bits of a favourite tune hummed in the background.
This is a book of strong emotions and equally strong contrasts – tradition vs modern liberal attitudes, homecoming vs letting go, and all through coloured by Nina’s battles with her depression. If that makes the book sound rather dark – maybe it is in parts; however Nina is surrounded by people who care for her, and they’re not going to let her go down without a fight. They bring some Mediterranean sunshine and much humour.
I’ve deliberately not told you much about the plot, because if you’re tempted to read this book, you should discover it for yourself. In the author’s safe pair of hands a story, that otherwise could have been overwrought or cloying, is instead a breath of fresh air, and you too will feel better for having read it. (10/10)
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Like Bees to Honey by Caroline Smailes