She goes where the bees take her.
But, you know, not in a crazy way. Just in a free-falling, go-with-the-flow, flutter-where-the-wind-takes-her way.
It’s been more than a decade since Sugar Wallace escaped Charleston with a broken heart and thirst for change. Traveling the country in a series of madcap moves with only a beloved beehive bequeathed to her by her grandpa, Sugar eventually finds herself in New York City — a location chosen by Elizabeth the Sixth, her queen.
On her first day, Sugar stumbles across a kindly out-of-work doorman she mistakes for a homeless person and the man over whom he has stumbled: Theo Fitzgerald. With his Scottish accent and loud printed shirts, Sugar has a hard time ignoring Theo — especially as an electric current passes between them. As Sugar settles into life in New York with a motley cast of shy, surly, well-meaning neighbors, she may decide running isn’t her only choice after all.
Sarah-Kate Lynch’s The Wedding Bees: A Novel of Honey, Love, and Manners is a delightful read from start to finish. Sugar is our lighter-than-air heroine who gives and gives of herself while expecting — and wanting — nothing in return, and it’s hard not to feel enchanted by her. From her meet-cute with Theo to her homegrown honey to her slowly-unraveling stories of another life in South Carolina, Lynch’s novel captured my attention and held me inside each delicious word.
In addition to the love story and Sugar’s tumultuous past, the strength of the novel stems from the well-sketched, interesting characters that populate Sugar’s world: Ruby, a sweet but hollow-eyed girl obsessed with love stories, always seeming to vanish before Sugar’s eyes; Nate, a talented and passionate chef relegated to slinging hash for a monster of a boss; and Lola, a single mother making ends meet in an unconventional way. And then there’s George, and Mr. McNally, and Mrs. Keschl.
They’re friends. And they come to be Sugar’s biggest supporters.
The Wedding Bees reads like a modern fairytale — and it’s easy to picture Sugar as a tall, beautiful, long-haired princess floating among the peasants. But she doesn’t act that way. Wholly grounded by the guilt of past decisions and unwilling to accept the love flowing right into her fingertips, our heroine is skeptical, worried, consumed — like a normal person would be, basically. Though most “normal” folks wouldn’t rely on a bee wandering a globe to determine their next move.
As you’d expect from a book with such a title, Sugar’s hive plays a pivotal role in the story. Once “saved” by them during a major turning point in her young life, the bees are bonded to Sugar in the same way she’s bonded to them. They need each other, play off each other; they’re a constant, a mainstay, and they want to see her happy. Though getting into the queen’s head requires a little suspension of disbelief, that’s not difficult to do.
Honestly, this story delighted me — and it was just the quick, fun but memorable read I love. With its touch of magical realism, fans of Sarah Addison Allen and contemporary fiction will find The Wedding Bees to be both a sweet and sustenance.
4 out of 5!