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Tell it to the Bees

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,235 ratings  ·  130 reviews
A spellbinding story of forbidden love in the 1950s, now a major movie starring Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger

A secret love which has a whole town talking ... and a small boy very worried.

Lydia Weekes is distraught at the break-up of her marriage. When her young son, Charlie, makes friends with the local doctor, Jean Markham, her life is turned upside down.

Charlie tells
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 21st 2009 by 2009 (first published 2009)
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Popular Answered Questions
Maja What charges would she face? abortion was illegal at that time, so any consequences would fall on Annie (and the doctor), not her mother.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Maja because it was made by straight women is my guess. they butchered the story.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,235 ratings  ·  130 reviews


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annie
Jul 02, 2018 marked it as to-read
apparently there are two fiona shaws out there in the world (the author of this book and the actress known for her role in the harry potter movies) and BOTH of them are doin gay shit! we stan, we stan
Ronel
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
I just loved the story and the prose. Absolutely beautifully written.

The only thing that bothered me a bit was that I could not understand why Charlie's mom kissed the doctor. That bit, why she fell in love did not come out very clearly. But it is a small, small gripe compared to the rest of this wonderful book.

Also, the book reminded me of how far we as the LGBT community has come in certain countries. At one stage the two main characters discuss the fact that they cannot hold hands in public.
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Joshie
1950s.

A housewife stuck in a crumbling marriage and an unmarried female doctor too passionate for her chosen profession. Lydia and Jean.

What could come out of their encounter?

What were the chances of love slipping quietly through that small space between floor and door that first time she invited her to tea? Love with all its shocking and bent ways, appearing in places you least expected, showing itself through people you've never thought of; love always have its ways.

Of book conversations,
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kerrie
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Absolutely stunning. Is it ridiculous to say I can't even write a proper review because I loved it so much and it touched me so deeply? Gorgeous writing from Fiona Shaw makes up this heart-achingly tender, passionate, and at times harrowing novel which explores the relationship (and hardships) of two women, Lydia and Jean in the 1950s who fall in love but can't name that love. It explores, self-discovery, friendship, the horror of what life as a homosexual in that era could be. The rawness of ...more
Paulina
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*

This is such a beautiful book, heart wrenching at times but beautiful nonetheless. I bought it straight after seeing the trailer for the movie and gosh now I'm even more excited for it. I wish we got a little more interactions from the time they fell in love, especially that we spent a big part of the book (around 1/4) without them even meeting one another. But the interactions that we got are so pure and beautiful and gay it's hard not to fall in love with this story.
Lisa Rose
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Beautiful prose, characterization and characters you truly care about. I can see why it’s being turned into a movie and I can’t wait to see it!

There are similarities with Carol/The Price of Salt obviously but there is far less angst and having the story told from three perspectives added depth and feeling.

Loved it. Quite possibly my new favorite lesbian book.
Gill
Dec 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt, novels
I loved everything about this book. It is beautifully written, I cared about the characters, and I stayed up half the night to find out how it ended.
G. Benson
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was magic.
Basma
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, queer-fic
There’s something about books written like they belong in the 50’s or 60’s (whether or not it’s actually set there) that really doesn’t suit me. I don’t know how best to describe that kind of writing other than that. It usually makes it a very slow read for me and sometimes a lil boring and I tend to opt to watching the movie adaptation if there is one.

With that said, this book is basically that but I decided to push through it and once I did I couldn’t put the book down. Once I got hooked, the
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Hannah
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have found a new favourite book, wow.
Seriously, I picked this up because I saw the trailer to the movie and it gave me Carol vibes, so I thought I'd have to give it a try, I'm always down for vintage lesbian stories.
What I didn't expect though was how much this book would blow me away. It was so beautifully written I could picture everything clearly. I loved the main characters and the story unfolded slowly but still it never was boring. Also I loved how the drama wasn't too long and that
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Liz
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately this did not live up to my expectations. I did not enjoy the story from the point of view of the son. The first half of the book focused on the break down of the marriage, which I felt went on too long and I personally found boring.

For me there was a lack of chemistry and the first kiss just came out of the blue. For once I actually wanted more build up and romance.

It was well written but found the pacing was slow and would have preferred the point of view more from the romance.

Martina
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Good story, very well written, and very cinematic. It's gonna make a great film adaptation. Anyway, Jean being straight before meeting Lydia? Sounds fake but okay. She's described as quite butch and went to medical school in the 40s, come on.

SPOILER



One thing I did not appreciate was having to suffer through Lydia's awful marriage and subsequent grief after her asshole husband leaves her for the WHOLE first half of the book.
Serena
May 27, 2019 rated it liked it
I decided to read the book after seeing the movie. As i expected, the book had more details. Especially Lydia's relationship with her husband gets more highlighted. Not my favorite book, but definitely worth the time to read.
It's very British and a gives a good view on a time that being gay wasn't something to be open about, or even speak about.
I'm not sure about the order of watching the movie and reading the book, what order would make more sense.
Ellie Moore
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt
Read it in one sitting- meant to start it before bed and maybe read a chapter, turn in early for a 9am lecture- finished it in two and a half hours (thereabouts) utterly enraptured. What a book. It's now 3:40am and I'm still thinking about this wonderful book instead of sleeping as I should be. 100% would recommend.
Giuseppe D
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a good story! An improbable friendship marked by shared interests. An impossible love at the time. I found it so sad that even the nicer people would resign themselves to what society used to think at the time. I found the characters well rounded and believable and enjoyed this a lot.
Alys
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this. The plot was really well paced although all the descriptive passages at the beginning annoyed me and felt too artsy for their own good. The women also seemed suspiciously un-nervous and chill about snogging eachother in the 1950s, even in public. Then when they did there wasn't much of a deal made out of it (maybe a good thing? Not sure)
I thought it was really impressive how Fiona Shaw managed to write the book from the perspective of all the characters, even the dad at
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Betty BoomBa
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read for the most part. Except that a great portion of the book seemed to focus on the husband and his family. The romance was a little rushed, and also where did that first kiss come from? That was very much not in keeping with the development of the story. It felt wrong and too forward for someone who came across as quite "limp".
But it has a better ending than the film.

The film has some parts that, for me, fit better than the book, and there are parts that are way better in the
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Sara
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was very bittersweet and sad, but also strangely cathartic? I enjoyed all the character arcs, (especially Pam, Jean, and Charlie's) though I was particularly disappointed in Jim as a person. But maybe that's my own experiences coloring my perception of him. Also, Robert got what he deserved. And Annie should be protected at all costs.

The only thing I really didn't like was the fact that this made me crave seeing the movie THAT much more. Augh. Anyone with a Prime account interested in
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Myrthe
3,5 stars.

I'm on holiday with a terrible wifi connection, so review to come later!
Dolors
Mar 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
An unusual tale of love and loss told through three different voices: a ten year old child, his mother and their doctor, Jean Markham, set in a little British village in the fifties.

Lydia, a beautiful young woman, is abandoned by her drunken husband being forced to struggle to raise her only child, Charlie. When she is in the verge of collapse, Jean, Charlie's doctor, enters their life like a miracle. She provides Charlie with a getaway in her huge garden and she lets him tend to the bees, a
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Brian
Dec 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Set in a small northern town in the nineteen fifties, Tell It To The Bees is the story of Charlie whose utterly self-absorbed father walks out on his marriage leaving his wife Lydia unable to pay her rent, despite working all the hours she can in a factory.

Through her son,Lydia becomes friends with Jean, a local doctor. When Lydia is threatened with eviction, Jean takes her in. Though neither of them have ever considered themselves to be any different from other people, they find themselves
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Anne L.
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Waters fan? You'll love this!

As an american hopelessly in love with the north/Yorkshire, this book was worth tracking down. Also, as a fan of solid writing and beautifully descriptive turns of phrases Shaw kept my interest to the last page. If you don't feel like reading The Fingersmith or Paying Guests for the third or fourth time give this book a shot - you won't be disappointed!
Lauren
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
this book was written SO WELL but at times it was so boringggggggg


but written SO WELL
Hannah
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Williesun
3.5 stars

A friend gifted me this book because she had somehow acquired two copies of this novel and of course I didn't turn down a free book. Especially since there is a movie of this book being released around now and I wanted to read the book as well.

It took me a while though to get into the story. The writing, I find especially in the beginning, being very distorted. The chapters change narrators, kind of, and whenever it's told from the child's perspective, I found it difficult to follow,
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Mariel
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
My friend let me borrow this book, expecting that I would love it; based on the description, I thought the same. However, I am incredibly disappointed. For the first 3/4 of the book, practically nothing happened. Then, in the last few chapters, the bulk of the plot was completely rushed. In addition to this, the writing style was not to my taste; it was awkward and even cliché at times. I think it will be a better film.
Jessica Schember
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid book

Well written, a honest look at life in that era. I watched the movie before reading this book, and I feel the film is a poor adaptation of the book. If the screen play writer had stuck closer to the books story line, it would have been a great movie.
Kay
Feb 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Characterisation was the best element of this book. Charlie leaps off the page and you really feel for him. Elements of the storyline felt a bit predictable.
Kate Powers
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very sweet book. Heartbreaking at times though.

The story went back and forth between Charlie and the adults’ perspective. So when the ending came, it felt unfinished; like a long chapter or two was missing from the novel. I guess this was Charlie’s story after all.

Excited for the movie.
Crystal
Oct 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
It's such a sweet, uncomplicated read. I only wish it hadn't focused so heavily on Robert's no good, terrible involvement, and I'm not sure if Pam's actions were meant to be redeemed because (view spoiler), but I quite liked the book. It's a such cute little literary romance. So, while I'm aware of the controversy over the film adaptation's ending, I hope it made some overall improvements by focusing a lot more on ...more
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Not to be confused with Fiona Shaw, the Irish-born stage & screen actress.

Fiona was born in London in 1964. Her place of birth is now a hospital broom cupboard and her first home was on a street later obliterated beneath a superstore off the Cromwell Rd. However, she passed most of her childhood as the eldest of three girls in a lovely and spacious family home near the Thames.

Fiona studied
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“It was the most exciting sentence I've ever heard," Lydia said. Reaching out, she stroked the back of Jean's hand. "In front of your friends, to call me your love.” 2 likes
“we discovered that some great minds have the same passions, and now look where we are” 2 likes
More quotes…