Book Talk: Paull's 'The Bees' looks at life inside the hive

Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:03pm EDT
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By Verity Watkins

LONDON (Reuters) - Three years ago playwright Laline Paull began to notice bees in her garden in Sussex, southeast England. Her interest was inspired by the death of a beekeeping friend.

“Angie had breast cancer, and she wasn’t going to make it. I was awed at her graciousness in the face of her terror and when she died, in order to keep that feeling of how wonderful she was, I started reading about bees. She was gone but the bees were not gone.”

The more Paull read the more inspired she was.

“Everything I read made me think 'Wow, they do that? They fly how far? It takes how many bees their whole lives to make a teaspoon of honey?'”

The result is her debut novel, "The Bees", a story of intense drama within a hive, framed by a biological integrity that intrigues and informs.

Through the protagonist Flora we learn of the hive mind, the blissful scent of mother love, nectar gathering, and encroaching sickness. The pampered drones (male bees) are sketched with expert humor as the females ‘worship to his maleness’, before disaster strikes.

Paull studied English at Oxford, screenwriting in Los Angeles and theater in London. She is a member of BAFTA and the Writer’s Guild of America. She spoke to Reuters about "The Bees":

Q: Do you keep bees yourself?   Continued...

Laline Paull reads from her book "The Bees" during a meeting of Vanguard Readings in London May 20, 2014.   REUTERS/Russell Boyce