In April 2019 Amazon Crossing gave free copies of The Murmur of Bees and eight other books in celebration of World Book day. If you are not familar with Amazon Crossing, it’s mission is to introduce readers to authors from around the world with translations of foreign language books, making award-winning and best-selling books accessible to new readers. One of the other free books was The Hangman’s Daughter, which was my bookclub’s July 2019 selection.
The Murmur of Bees is a folksy and charming tale is narrated by Francisco Morales, Jr. One day in a very long taxi ride, he describes his life as the youngest child of Beatriz and Francisco Morales, Sr., who were already grandparents when he was born. Prior to his birth, his parents had taken in a newborn infant, Simonopio, who was found by an elderly nursemaid abandoned under a bridge surrounded by a swarm of bees. Simonopio was born with a cleft palate or some deformity that caused the superstitious locals to say he was kissed by the devil. One character in the book especially fears and loathes this sweet boy. Simonopio is both mysterious and magical. He listens to the murmur of bees and knows things. While Simonopio is unable to speak for most to understand, Francisco Jr. can understand his language. The two become inseparable until a tragedy strikes. Afterwards Francisco and his family move away, leaving Simonopio behind. It is not until Francisco is an old man that he takes the taxi ride back to the home he loved as a boy.
Much of the story takes place during the time of the devastating influenza of 1918 and the Mexican revolution. Francisco Sr., a generous farmer, learns much about crops from Simonopio and works very hard to keep his land from the Agrarians who felt they had the right to take it from the owners. The characters are well developed and believable. 4-Stars.
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