Radio 2 Book Club: The History of Bees

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The History of Bees by Maja Lunde will be featured on the Radio 2 Book Club on Monday 18 September.

We have the chance for you to win 10 copies of this fascinating novel for your reading group. Please enter by Friday 22 September.

Not yet a member of Reading Groups for Everyone? Sign up now.

We also have an exclusive extract available for you to read, as well as some discussion questions for your group.

The History of Bees

England, 1851. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive—one that will give both him and his children honour and fame.

United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper and fights an uphill battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation.

China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao’s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident—and is kept in the dark about his whereabouts and condition—she sets out on a gruelling journey to find out what happened to him.

Selection panel review

The book was selected with the help of a panel of library staff from across the UK.

The panel loved The History of Bees – here are some of their comments:

“I liked reading about life depicted in three different eras. This is skilfully done. It is interesting to consider the interaction between parents and children within the historical. The book deals with very topical issues such as pollution and the toll man takes on the planet. It consists of a 3 strand story arc, which follows the lives of people in different periods of history and their interaction with bees. These stories weave in and out of each other, so that revelations in one impact on the other, and connections are made between them. I can definitely see this book inspiring discussion and debate on numerous topics, including the notion of legacy, environmental issues and family relationships.”

“I loved this book. Three voices from three timelines; William in 1852 England, the trials and tribulations of designing the perfect beehive; beekeeper George in 2007 America; and Tao in 2098 Sichuan in a horrific future without bees. All 3 times are so well depicted and so vivid that I was immersed with them all – if you love David Mitchell books, and I do, I think you’d love this book. It’s also very topical at the moment, as we know bees are declining, and pesticides are in the news again…”

About the author

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Maja Lunde is a Norwegian author and screenwriter. Lunde has written ten books for children and young adults. She has also written scripts for Norwegian television, including for the children’s series Barnas supershow (The Children’s Super Show), the drama series Hjem (Home) and the comedy series Side om Side (Side by Side). The History of Bees is her first novel for adults. She lives with her husband and three children in Oslo.

A word from Maja

“The value of knowledge is an important theme in The History of Bees, and one of my main characters finds the answers she is looking for in an abandoned library. Like her, I also go to the library for answers.

When writing The History of Bees the research could sometimes be overwhelming. Luckily I had a great library close by and wonderful librarians to help me. I could never have written this novel without them. My local library is my second home. Therefore, I’m especially honoured The Reading Agency and the Radio 2 Book Club have selected The History of Bees. Thank you so much!"

Get involved

Tune in to Simon Mayo’s Drivetime show on Monday 18 September to hear a live interview with Maja.

Have you read The History of Bees? You can share your thoughts with us on Twitter using #TheHistoryofBees, and follow author Maja Lunde

You can also see what other readers thought or add the book to your group’s reading list.

Want to find out more? Take a look at the Radio 2 Book Club Twitter feed or find out more on the Radio 2 Book Club website.

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