The Beekeeper's Secret, by Josephine Moon

Maria knew about guilt. It was a stubborn, pervasive and toxic emotion, and incredibly difficult to shake. Especially if really, deep down, you didn’t think you deserved to let it go.

Maria Lindsay lives a quiet, but productive life, and that is how she likes it. She lives simply, managing a retreat and raising funds for an orphanage, largely through the products she makes from honey and beeswax, gifts from the bees she tends. But when she receives two letters, her peaceful, orderly existence is threatened. One letter is from a niece she has never met, who wants to reestablish connection between Maria and the family she left behind many years ago. The other is from an investigator, looking into events which Maria has tried to put behind her.

Tansy Butterfield is Maria’s niece. She has long known about her aunt, but has only just tracked her down, and is delighted that she lives so close. But as Tansy’s fledgling relationship with her aunt grows, the rest of her life seems ind anger of falling apart. Her mother has arrived on her doorstep, having ‘a break’ from her previously rock-solid marriage, her husband has been asked to relocate to Canada for work, and Tansy’s agreement not to have children is weighing heavily on her.

The Beekeeper’s Secret explores the complexities of extended families, and the relationships which can span generations. Tansy and Maria form a strong bond, in spite of Maria’s long estrangement from Tansy’s mother, and Maria passes her learning on to Tansy and her stepson, Leo. Their family includes Tansy’s devout Catholic parents, her sister Rose who has four children, her hippy Aunt and Uncle, and her cousin and his wife, as well as Tansy’s husband Dougal and his adult son Leo. Each family member is navigating change as well as looking back at promises and mistakes of the past.

From the author of the much loved The Tea Chest and The Chocolate Promise, The Beekeeper’s Secret continues the strong, warm tradition, although also dealing with some uncomfortable (yet important) topics including the effects of child abuse.

The Beekeeper’s Secret, by Josephine Moon
Allen & Unwin, 2016
ISBN 9781925266139