“BEE SEASON” HITS A BULLS-EYE !
Well, it was a bulls-eye for me anyway ... and it was a complete surprise. I had never heard of Myla Goldberg, nor had I read a review of “Bee Season”, although I see that it actually came out in 2000. I had picked up the book at my local library because it was on the “new arrivals” table. (Our library is very small and all the books are donated so “new arrival” simply means that it is new to our library shelves.)
By the time I was half way through the book I was hooked. I was enthralled with her descriptive ability and the scope of her imagination. It reminded me of the earliest works of Joyce Carol Oates.
The story centers around Eliza Naumann, the 9 year old daughter (and youngest child) of a Jewish family of four. When she, surprisingly, shows great aptitude in spelling they are amazed. She wins her school and her district spelling bees and almost wins in the national competition in Washington, DC. Eliza has been a so-so student until now and the father, Saul, is amazed and overjoyed at this turn of events.
Saul and Eliza spend the next twelve months feverishly training for the following year’s “bee“. Father and daughter become engrossed with this new venture. They see little else and completely fail to realize that the rest of the family is falling apart.
Aaron, the son, is swept up in his quest for spiritual fulfillment and Miriam, wife and mother, comes apart at the seams when her secret life of 18 years is finally unraveled.
The twists and turns of this novel make it a marvelous read. A little research on my part revealed that Myra Goldberg received awards and much acclaim for this book ... where was I during all this ??
“Bee Season” was actually made into a movie in 2005. I have it on my Net-flix list and will watch it this week. I can’t wait to see how they portray Miriam’s kaleidoscope. (You’ll have to read the novel or see the movie to see what that means !)