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The Murmur of Bees Kindle Edition
From a beguiling voice in Mexican fiction comes an astonishing novel—her first to be translated into English—about a mysterious child with the power to change a family’s history in a country on the verge of revolution.
From the day that old Nana Reja found a baby abandoned under a bridge, the life of a small Mexican town forever changed. Disfigured and covered in a blanket of bees, little Simonopio is for some locals the stuff of superstition, a child kissed by the devil. But he is welcomed by landowners Francisco and Beatriz Morales, who adopt him and care for him as if he were their own. As he grows up, Simonopio becomes a cause for wonder to the Morales family, because when the uncannily gifted child closes his eyes, he can see what no one else can—visions of all that’s yet to come, both beautiful and dangerous. Followed by his protective swarm of bees and living to deliver his adoptive family from threats—both human and those of nature—Simonopio’s purpose in Linares will, in time, be divined.
Set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution and the devastating influenza of 1918, The Murmur of Bees captures both the fate of a country in flux and the destiny of one family that has put their love, faith, and future in the unbelievable.
“The book’s publication in the United States by Amazon Crossing announces a writer whose absorbing yet accessible prose and gift for sprinkling the mystical into a deeply human narrative is sure to draw comparisons to Latin American greats, such as Isabel Allende.” —The Washington Post
“Sofía Segovia is already a famed author in Mexico, and with The Murmur of Bees she’s poised to become an international favorite too.” —POPSUGAR
“A unique and deftly penned novel by an author with a genuine flair for the kind of narrative storytelling that holds the readers rapt attention from beginning to end, The Murmur of Bees is unreservedly recommended.” —Midwest Book Review
“Acclaimed Mexican author Segovia’s first work translated into English is a gorgeous novel of family, friendship, land, and murderous envy, a tale reminiscent of Isabel Allende’s early tales…With the help of a gifted translator, Segovia skillfully envelops readers, fully engaging their senses and imagination in this wonderful novel.” —Booklist
“The Murmur of Bees is unpredictable and heart-rending, a novel both grand in scope, capturing the fate of a country in flux, and deeply personal, with its intimate portrait of a family that has put their love, faith, and future in the unbelievable.” —Brooklyn Digest
“Ms. Segovia combines a subtly magical atmosphere and unique, yet believable characters with kinetic narration to craft a story with broad appeal.” —San Francisco Book Review
“This is an incredible book by a great writer. I encourage everyone to run to obtain a copy. I await other books by this author.” —Historical Novel Society
“A magical-realism romp from Mexico, Sofía Segovia’s The Murmur of Bees—her first novel translated into English—offers a dizzying swirl of history, family lore, tragedy, redemption, and, of course, magic.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“The Murmur of Bees by Mexican writer Sofía Segovia is the rare novel in historical fiction, realistically framed within historical events—the Mexican Revolution, the Spanish flu—and, at the same time, filled with preternatural circumstances and fantastic characters that have earned Segovia comparisons with magical realism writers such as Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende. It is universal at heart but also deeply imbedded in its setting.” —Historical Novel Society
About the Author
Sofía Segovia was born in Monterrey, Mexico. She studied communications at Universidad de Monterrey, thinking mistakenly that she would be a journalist. But fiction is her first love. A creative writing teacher, she has also been a ghostwriter and communications director for local political campaigns and has written several plays for local theater. Her novels include Noche de huracán (Night of the Hurricane), El murmullo de las abejas (The Murmur of Bees)—which was called the literary discovery of the year by Penguin Random House and named Novel of the Year by iTunes—and Huracán. Sofía likes to travel the world, but she loves coming home to her husband, three children, two dogs, and cat. She writes her best surrounded and inspired by their joyous chaos.
Follow her on Facebook and Twitter or visit www.sofiasegovia.com for more information.
Simon Bruni is a literary translator from Spanish, a language he acquired through “total immersion” living in Alicante, Valencia, and Santander. He studied Spanish and Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London and Literary Translation at the University of Exeter.
Simon’s many published translations include novels, short stories, videogames and nonfiction publications, and he is the winner of three John Dryden awards: in 2017 and 2015 for Paul Pen’s short stories “Cinnamon” and “The Porcelain Boy,” and in 2011 for Francisco Pérez Gandul’s novel Cell 211. His translation of Paul Pen’s novel The Light of the Fireflies has sold over a hundred thousand copies worldwide.
For more information, please visit www.simonbruni.com.
- ASIN : B07GNCQXXB
- Publisher : Amazon Crossing (April 16, 2019)
- Publication date : April 16, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 5939 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 475 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1542040507
- Best Sellers Rank: #7,023 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Reviewed in the United States on July 18, 2019
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The day had started with the disappearance of Nana Reja, who never moved from her from her rocking chair in front of the shed she chose to live in on the Hacienda Amistad; when she went missing everyone expected that she would be found dead, lying somewhere in the bushes, perhaps mauled by wild animals. But instead, she was discovered five miles away, sitting on a rock in the shade of an anacahuita holding two wrapped bundles; one in her apron & the other in her shawl. She explained that she had traveled there to find the baby that was crying. One of her bundles contained a tiny baby with a disfigured face & covered with bees. The other bundle was a bee hive. Neither Nana nor the baby had been stung & she insisted that the bees be allowed to stay on the baby during the trip back to the hacienda. When they arrived, the hive was hung near Nana’s shed & she was easily able to brush the bees from the baby. The doctor who was summoned to examine them both diagnosed the baby’s disfigurement as a cleft palate, something that just happens sometimes. Nana declared that the baby was hers, & he was accepted immediately into the Morales family.
As the years passed the family learned to love the strange boy & he became one of their own; the townspeople got used to his appearance & grew fond of him as well. And although his speech was too garbled for anyone to be able to understand him, he continued his kinship with the bees, who followed him & told him many things. If he had been able to communicate all that he learned from them to the people, they would have been astounded. “He would have liked to talk to people about the songs they sang of vain women, abandoned women, railway women, soldier women. He would have liked to discuss his bees and ask everyone why they didn’t hear them, given that they spoke to the others, too, as they did to him. Had he been able, he would have talked about the song the bees sang into his willing ear about flowers on the mountain, faraway encounters, and friends that had not made it on the long journey home; about the sun that would beat down hard one day but be covered in storm clouds the next.” Simonopio couldn’t understand why people didn’t anticipate the changes in the weather, as the bees did; nor why they were unaware of dangers that he himself could anticipate. His childhood was spent doing his utmost to protect his family, something they gradually came to understand.
This tale encompasses the repression of the 10-year-long Mexican Civil War & the terrifying Spanish Flu Pandemic. It follows the Morales family as they struggled to keep their land & to avoid contracting the illness that they feared would ultimately kill everyone. It tells of how one unique, bighearted & gifted boy changed the course of their lives. It’s a magical tale, beautifully written, deliberately paced & filled with wisdom & insights into the way of things. A previous reviewer said it “was like taking a spring swim into a lake of soft beautiful words.” Yes.
This is the first of this author’s works to be translated into English. I hope there are more to come, & soon!
Top reviews from other countries
Taking in such things as the Mexican Revolution and the spread of Spanish Flu, along with the Great Depression and World War, so we find ourselves involved with a close-knit family and what happens to them over the years. This flips backwards and forwards through time quite effortlessly, and here provides a setting that mirrors memory, after all we do not recall events automatically in their original chronological order. This gives the tale also a sense of endlessness, as one generation of a family will eventually die, but the family history and their story will continue through their progeny.
With an old woman who in the end just sits in a rocking chair and remains quietly settled throughout the day, so we read of how she first turned up at the family home, and also how she was the only one who could hear an abandoned baby crying miles away, and thus goes to its rescue. A baby that we find is smothered in bees and has a cleft lip and palate. Thus being unable to be understood by others, so we find only the narrator knows what he is saying, when he is eventually born. In Simonopio as this child is called, we see someone who is part of the magical realism that appears in this tale, in that he communicates with the bees that were there when he was found, and thus has a nature worshipping shamanistic quality to him.
With a family saga thus taking front stage, so we read of all the problems going on in the background. As the author admits, this is a mix of fiction and history, but in places history has been altered slightly so that it can fit in with the main story. By the end of this we find out why the narrator is telling us this tale now, and who to, and this reminds us of memory, trying to forget things we would rather not remember, as well as the power of stories, and the role they play, not only within families, but in a wider context, as they help to shape the psyche of nations as well as individuals. This could be something worth considering for book groups, as there is a lot to take in and discuss here.
Do not miss this book, which will stay with you long after you finish reading.
Historically, The Murmur Of Bees felt authentic and very well researched. This was a particularly tumultuous time in Mexican and global history and I could clearly feel repercussions of The Great War and its aftermath, the Spanish flu epidemic, in the small town of Linares. The flu outbreak is particularly poignant and moments such as a brief scene of geriatric card players are vividly memorable. Surprisingly for me, as much of the story focuses on negative events, I didn't find The Murmur Of Bees to be a depressing read. The main characters are certainly put through the ringer on a number of occasions and there are chillingly dark narrative threads which evoked strong senses of foreboding for me, however I think I would describe this as a heartwarming novel overall. Segovia has penned a compelling story of family, loyalty and patience.
The Murmur of Bees is historical fiction mixed with hints of magical realism. Translated from Spanish, this story is set in Mexico in the early 1900s.
The star of the book is a disfigured mute orphan called Simonopio, who was found as a baby, covered in a blanket of honeybees. His relationship with the bees and his natural sixth sense are the backbone to this story.
Told through a slow-paced and meandering style the author builds a picture of life in this part of the world during this historical period. Agricultural changes, Spanish Influenza and family relationships all add to the layers of the story.
It took me a long time to read this book and, for me, it didn’t become interesting until around half way through, when Simonopio became the guardian of the youngest Morales’ child. Everything before that felt a little disjointed and I wondered where the story was taking us.
I loved the bees, they were one of my favourite parts and drew me to the book in the first place.
Overall, a book which needs patience to read but may be rewarding in the end, particularly if you like bees.
The character of Simonopio is enchanting, mysterious and yet real - he's a boy who suffers like any other, but with his gifts and his bees he's quite the most fascinating person in the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent read and would recommend it for its writing, its location in Mexico (which makes a refreshing, exotic change), and the vivid characterisation.