A Recipe for BeesBook - 1999
Shortlisted for the 1998 Giller Prize
A Globe and Mail Notable Book of 1998
Over 40,000 copies sold in hardcover
In A Recipe for Bees , Gail Anderson-Dargatz gives readers a remarkable woman to stand beside Hagar Shipley and Daisy Goodwin -- but Augusta Olsen also has attitude, a wicked funny bone, and the dubious gift of second sight.
At home in Courtenay, B.C., Augusta anxiously awaits news of her dearly loved son-in-law Gabe, who is undergoing brain surgery miles away in Victoria. Her best friend Rose is waiting for Augusta to call as soon as she hears. Through Rose, we begin to learn the story of Augusta's sometimes harsh, sometimes magical life: the startling vision of her mother's early death; the loneliness of her marriage to Karl and her battle with Karl's detestable father, Olaf. We are told of her gentle, platonic affair with a church minister, of her not-so-platonic affair with a man from the town, and the birth of her only child. We also learn of the special affinity between Rose and Augusta, who share the delights and exasperations of old age.
Just as The Cure for Death by Lightning offers recipes and remedies, A Recipe for Bees is saturated with bee lore, and is full of rich domestic detail, wondrous imagery culled from rural kitchens and gardens, shining insights into ageing, family and friendship. And at its heart, is the life, death and resurrection of an extraordinary marriage
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Augusta arrives home after being kicked out by her daughter for being too overbearing while her husband has been ill. Augusta's son-in-law Gabe is having brain surgery. Augusta is waiting at home with her husband Karl and her friend Rose, for the phone call regarding his survival. While they wait all afternoon for news Augusta has various flashbacks recounting her life. She deals with parental issues, her fathers lack of emotion/love, and her mother's affair with an indigenous man and the subsequent fall out. Her adolescent years and meeting Karl. Her marriage to Karl and her misery with her father-in-law. Augusta's own affair with an older man, and subsequent pregnancy. The birth of her child and death of her father. Joy's childhood and growth, and the lack of mother daughter bond. And finally renewed love for Karl resulting from the bee keeping and their elderly years. Towards the end of the book we find out that Gabe lives, and Joy has rekindled their mother daughter relationship.
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