‘Secret Life of Bees’ film true to book
“There is no perfect love, Lily,” Ms. August says to the 14-year-old filled with angst, who says of herself: “My whole life has been a hole, where my mother should have been.”
Sue Monk Kidd is a compelling writer. I’ve read many of her books: “The Mermaid Chair,” “The Dance of the Dissident Daughter,” “First Light” and “The Secret Life of Bees.”
I don’t find many movies true to the book; “The Secret Life of Bees” is an exception.
The setting is July l964; the summer in which Lily leaves home, having been harshly treated by her emotionally closed father. She takes in tow with her a hired black woman who has made up her mind to walk to town and register to vote. It is really hard to say who is towing whom, as their positions change throughout the movie, but they continue to tug one another through that dreadful, explosive summer in the South, when men and women came to confront deep within themselves fears and prejudices and hoisted those fears and prejudices onto the hearts and souls of the innocent.
Fear and misunderstanding are undercurrents that ebb and flow beneath the feet of the characters as Lily and Rosaline make their way out of the abusive household of Lily’s father to the town of Tiburon, where a family of three black women runs a bee farm and makes Black Madonna Honey.
It is said that there are no accidents in life and that everything moves to an unseen rhythm toward some unnamed but strongly felt purpose. If you ever wanted that to be true, it becomes true in this story — with all the heartache that accompanies unfilled promises.
It is important that Lily is white, her mother was white, her hired woman is black and that they end up in the family of three black women. It may even be important that the Black Madonna is the mother of God; it is important that she is a mother.
I do know that when each woman and child touched and was touched by the hand of an unseen God, through the deed and gesture of life’s fellow travelers, the impact of that touch upon a broken spirit and the ability to receive and accept that kindness, even love, was the beginning of healing.
There may be no perfect love but in stretching to love beyond our capacity to understand, we may be able to accept the brokenness of ourselves and others, through that acceptance be made whole again.
I walked out of the movie thinking of a poem, read many years ago: “Heretic, rebel, thing to flout; he drew a circle that shut me out. Love and I had the wit to win; we drew a circle that took him in.” Perfect circle: mother love; perfect love in an imperfect world.