If there was ever a book that should be made into a film by Tim Burton, it is Eric Setiawan’s novel, Of Bees and Mist. That may not mean much to many readers, and I hope it’s not off-putting. I love Burton’s quirky films and I loved Setiawan’s book so I think they would be an extraordinary combination.
Of Bees and Mist is an extraordinary trip into another world. I’m not sure of the definition of ‘magical realism’ within literary circles, but if this book doesn’t embody it, I don’t know what would. The reader is transported into the main character, Meridia’s world — one that reminded me quite a bit of Harry Potter, minus the broomsticks and potions. It’s a timeless world– it feels simultaneously modern and old. Brides are ‘chosen’ by families and a dowry matters. The setting is gorgeous and all I could think about was the village that Tim Burton’s art directors would create. He’s the perfect person to transform this book into film and I hope somehow, somewhere, he discovers it and buys the rights to it. I know he doesn’t usually deal with female protagonists, but Meridia should be an exception.
I don’t know what I expected from the publisher’s blurb, but it wasn’t what I got. I adored the main character, Meridia, and she reminded me (in a strange way) of a female Harry Potter. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no overt magic being done by Meridia, but she’s a young girl who grows up before our eyes with little help from her parents (they are broken by their own passions for each other). Meridia fights to understand the nature of love that simultaneously saves and destroys her family. She marries into a family that never fully appreicates her and she endures more than her share of persecution and misunderstanding in the name of keeping her husband and family together.
* Who is family to us? How do we construct our families? What part does biology play and what part something or someone else?
*What should we get from our parents? What do we have a right to expect from that relationship as we get older. What do we ‘owe’ our parents? Siblings?
*What makes one a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in-law?
*What is the role of intuition in our lives? Do you rely on it? Fear it?
*What are the bees? What are the mists?
*What kinds of love are present in the novel?
*What is the role of magic in this book?
*Who is Hannah?
Read this one, it’s a charmer!