The Keeper of the Bees
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The Keeper of the Bees

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  1,031 ratings  ·  135 reviews
Set in the author's adopted home of California in the 1920s, this is Gene Stratton-Porter's last novel, a story filled with wisdom, a love of nature, and her own abiding optimism. In it a Master Bee Keeper, his bees, and the natural beauty of California restore a wounded World War I veteran to health.
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published October 1st 1991 by Indiana University Press (first published 1925)
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TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez
Gene (Geneva) Stratton-Porter and this book, The Keeper of the Bees, are both sadly overlooked. The Keeper of the Bees is a classic. It’s a beautiful story, wonderfully written, and filled with characters so real, you think you might meet one of them yourself any day now.

Gene Stratton-Porter was brought up in the forests of Indiana – when Indiana had forests – before the trees were cut down for timber – and she was a lover of nature. The natural world plays such importance that is a character in...more
Katherine
I read this years ago on a recommendation from my mom and enjoyed it. This time through I'm in a completely different place in life and appreciate so much more the simple messages in the book.

This is the story of Jamie MacFarlane, a young Scotsman, who has served in World War I and received a shrapnel wound in his chest, a wound that will not heal. After a year of unsuccessful treatment in the hospital, the doctors decide to send him to a TB camp even though he doesn't "yet" have tuberculosis. I...more
Alyson
Apr 27, 2009 Alyson rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: not sure that I would
Recommended to Alyson by: Marion Larsen
Shelves: 2009, book-club
Argh.

Positives: the story was interesting enough (barely) that I kept a-going to the end of the book. Maybe I need to get rid of that S on the end of Positives.

Negatives: This story was so moralistic and preachy I almost couldn't handle it. Now I like me a good moral tale, but I want the morality to come out in the characters and the events, not in lectures from the characters and narrator page after page. Sigh! I just hardly could even handle the hammering of the moral over and over, even thoug...more
Dawn
Long-winded, old-fashioned, preachy nonsense. Gee, maybe that's too harsh. Once you strip away all the descriptions of flowers (Gene Stratton-Porter was totally into nature), meal plans (which are a hoot), and God stuff, you're left with a sweet little story about a wounded WWI veteran finding hope again.

This was recommended to me by a lady who thought it was the best book she'd ever read. Honestly, I'd take the Bible over this any day--more sex, violence, gore, plot, fewer flowers, better food,...more
Jen
This was my first Gene Stratton-Porter book. At first it kind of took my off guard. It wasn't what I was expected. It is one of the best books! I love the parallel drawn between the main characters ailing body and his ailing soul. When he begans to heal his body and soul he does it through simple faith and gratitude. I like that his relationship is with nothing flowery, just simple and sincere. I wish more books could portray love of God with such peace and gentleness.
Monica Drake
This is an older book, 1929 approximately, and in ways it shows--sentimental, religious, delivered with an intrusive third-person narrator--but I love it for all it is. It's a smart book full of insights on our (humans) relationship to nature and the self, community and the individual. It's cool.
Marci
My favorite Stratton-Porter book so far. I loved the characters in this book, but also enjoyed the setting since I am a garden lover. Great story!
Shanna Hatfield
Another fabulous book by Gene Stratton-Porter. The phrases used in this book make me smile.
Denise
Be prepared to fall in love with Jamie and want him for a next door neighbor is all I have to say.
Lorraine
I was browsing the library shelves when this title caught my eye. Having read The Secret Life of Bees, I wondered if this Gene Stratton Porter book would maybe have been a book that influenced the writer in The Secret Life of Bees. I had as a girl read "Freckles" and "Girl of the Limberlost," although I couldn't remember much about them. (I read a lot of books that were stored at our house that had been the books of my aunts and uncles. Some even had my mom's name in them from before she was mar...more
josey
Jan 16, 2011 josey rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: novel
I read Gene Stratton-Porter books when I was a child and now collect them. I can't even give a good review on them because I have so many books to read that I have not taken the time to get her books out again. I know that I loved them because they were nature/romance stories, but so sweet that they are nothing like Harlequin romance, not even close. I keep telling myself that they will soon be on my list, but since I just joined yet another book club that meets here in my town, making that two...more
Linda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marian Allen
I apologize sincerely to Gene Stratton Porter fans, but this was one of the worst books I ever finished. I was quite disappointed, because I read FRECKLES by this author when I was young and I adored it.

Details. WHY did I not like this book?

It's illogical, factually inaccurate on many important points, and both mawkishly sentimental and self-righteously pedantic. In Albert Payson Terhune, these flaws are lent a certain charm by his self-deprecating humor (and, of course, the active presence of...more
Lisa Houlihan
At page 60, this book is cracking me up. In style of writing it is more like Grace Livingston Hill (one book five years ago) or my first Distributed Proofreaders' book for Project Gutenberg, entitled something like "The Girl Aviators' Motor Butterfly," both contemporary with GSP, than like Girl of the Limberlost, my sole previous experience of this author. In 60 pages the protagonist has survived blood poisoning, defeated bandits, ridden with the Joads, not contracted tuberculosis, been pick-poc...more
Debbie
What a beautiful story!!!
I fell in love with the characters.
A man has returned from World War I and has a hole in his chest that has not healed.
He runs away from a hospital at Arrowhead Springs, CA because they are going to move him to Camp Kearney where he knows he will die of the white death - tuberculosis.
This is a beutiful story of his wanderings and how he becomes the Keeper of the Bees.
The descriptions of bees, flowers and the California coast are priceless!!
I never would have found this b...more
Jocelyn
This book was good. I'm not raving about it, but I enjoyed reading it. It took me a long time to get through it, partly because my time for reading has been limited and partly because it is a rather slow-paced book.

The only other book I have read by this author was The Harvester, which I loved. I can't say I loved this one as much. I rate it 4 stars in general, but in comparison to The Harvester, it only gets 3. There are still elements of the author's writing I enjoy such as her love and knowle...more
Angie
This is one of my all-time favorite books! It is such a beautiful, wholesome, uplifting story about a wounded soldier who departs on a "Great Adventure" and finds physical and spiritual healing as the Keeper of the Bees. Gene Stratton-Porter is a wonderful author. She once wrote, "To my way of thinking and working, the greatest service a piece of fiction can do any reader is to leave him with a higher ideal of life than he had when he began. If in one small degree it shows him where he can be a...more
Susie
This is an oldy. Gene Stratton-Porter, the author, also wrote Girl of the Limberlost which was wonderful. Keeper of the Bees is hard to define. The author wrote a beautiful story but also threw in some of her religious values as well as some soap-boxing so it's a little different than you would find in a contemporary novel. I still loved the characters (especially Little Scout) and the moral(s) of the story.
I am tongue tied here as I have never read a book like this before and I loved it, but mo...more
Michael Tucker
I was impressed with the relevance to our modern day treatment of veterans and the challenge they have in finding their way in this world. I enjoyed the way she dealt with courage. honor. and growth. Read it!!
Patty
I love the descriptive passages of this book, Gene Stratton-Porter had a gift for describing nature. When I opened the book I felt like I was stepping through the gate and into the sweet little cottage of the Bee Master. Beautiful. That said, it went a little long and got a bit preachy towards the end. Otherwise, I liked it just fine.
Rachel
I love the wholesome goodness that Ms. Porter is always reaching for in her novels and that is what keeps me reading her books. Even so, the histrionics in this particular story were a bit too forced, even for me, and once again the child character was so "wise" for her age that I had a hard time swallowing the dialogue. Still, despite the distracting melodrama, I can't help but come away morally enlightened by the Utopia so hopefully created in any world inside the covers of a Stratton-Porter t...more
Linda
This is a sweet book. Written in a gentler time (even though in the era of WWI), when manners and morals were prized above all without embarrassment. The Little Scout is a totally charming character, the hero is manly yet sensitive, the mystery woman is all that a heroine should be, and the progression from resignation to hope; from darkness to light, is slow but sure. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I read my mom's tattered 1925 copy...she thought it was out of print, but B&N has it, so I may bu...more
Mia
Jul 22, 2014 Mia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Mia by: My mom
Great book ! :) Of course this book is almost one hundred years old so some of the habits and ways of thinking are odd, but it's still great.
Casey Smith
Another book 'borrowed' from my Mother-in-law's bookcase! This time I learned that she had purchased the book because it was written by a famous author who grew up in Wabash County Indiana, close to where my Mother-in-law was raised.

What a pleasant surprise this book was! I thoroughly enjoyed the style of writing and the character development of this novel. I also enjoyed the imagry of the lives portrayed and the time in which the story took place. With a bit of a twist at the end of the story,...more
Nina
This book was recommended by my niece Liesl. Fabulous. It is in the young adult fiction section at your local library. I loved it so much I bought the book on Amazon later. A wounded veteran of World War I decides to escape from the military hospital. He ends up going to California to heal by the sun and ocean. He meets the Little Scout, who acts as his guide as he learns bee keeping. There is romance, mystery, and a little twist of plot. This book is even healing to the soul to read. I am addic...more
Sophia
This book is well written. I love it, mainly the bees, but the whole book is fantastic.
Valory
This book was a hand-me-down from my father, and from my grandfather before him. I read it when I was in junior high school and loved it; I remember sitting on the school bus going home, just finishing the book, and the tears rolling down my cheeks. It was a sweet story with a surprise ending, and at that time in my life it was truly my favorite book. It inspired me to learn more about Gene Stratton-Porter and to read many more of her books, although none of them compared to this first one, in m...more
Hailey White
My favorite GSP book thus far!
Karen
A young man injured by shrapnel in WWI has been consigned to an "end of the line" hospital where tuberculosis is the likely outcome. He decides to take fate into his own hands and walks out of the hospital, resigned to death but at least on his own terms. He discovers not only helping and loving people in the world, but his own moral courage and strength.

This was only the third of Stratton-Porter's books I've read and I think it was the best so far.
Iris Eng
This is the second book that my Father recommended to me. Dad was 61 years young when I was born. So, he shared with me a love of books from his youth. What is interesting is that these books are so easy to read even in today's time. I don't have all her books by a long stretch but I do have a few. I have never read anything that I have not enjoyed that she wrote. I recommend this book and all her books to anyone who might be interested.
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She was an American author, amateur naturalist, wildlife photographer, and one of the earliest women to form a movie studio and production company. She wrote some of the best selling novels and well-received columns in magazines of the day.

Born Geneva Grace Stratton in Wabash County, Indiana, she married Charles D. Porter in 1886, and they had one daughter, Jeannette.

She became a wildlife photogra...more
More about Gene Stratton-Porter...
A Girl of the Limberlost (Limberlost, #2) Freckles (Limberlost #1) Laddie: A True Blue Story The Harvester Michael O'Halloran

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“Don't!" cried Jamie. "Don't be bitter, Margaret. We don't know why, we never can know why things happen in this world exactly as they do; but this we know: We know that God is in His Heaven, that He is merciful to the extent of ordaining mercy; we know that if we disobey and take our own way and run contrary to His commandments, we are bitterly punished. And it is the most pitiful of laws that no man or woman can take their punishment alone in this world. It is the law that none of us can suffer without making someone else suffer, but in some way it must be that everything works out for the best, even if we can't possibly see how that could be when things are happening that hurt us so.” 3 likes
“He swore by all that he ever had loved and reverenced that he would try, try with all his might in the short time that might remain to him...he would forget himself, he would put his own pain and chagrin and disappointment, his own feeling of defeat and uselessness, his own craving for love and intellectual companionship in the background, and he would see if the more than six feet of bone and muscle that contained his being could do any small service that might come his way for God and his fellow man before he went. Maybe if he could accomplish some little thing, something that would ease the ache of even one heart that ached as his was aching at that minute, just maybe that knowledge would be the secret that he might carry in his breast that would set the stamp of an indelible smile on his face, so that even a child could discern the majesty of the impulse and he would not be ashamed when the end came.” 1 likes
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