The Beekeeper’s Daughter by Santa Montefiore is a multi-generational romance featuring the love and heartbreak of Grace Hamblin and her daughter, Trixie Valentine, both of whom are daughters of beekeepers.
It’s the Seventies and while Ian Dury has not yet released Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll, they are the mantra of the generation, except for the youth of picture-perfect Tekanasset Island off the coast of Massachusetts. There, the Sixties seem to have sailed past the country clubs and gardens, leaving them in their idyllic past. That is, until the British Invasion arrives in the form of an aspiring band seeking guidance from a local music impresario.
Trixie Valentine falls madly in love with one of the band mates, Jasper. It’s mutual and all is right with the world until his brother’s death calls him home to England and leaves her bereft and broken-hearted, but unwilling to ever settle for anything less than the love she felt for Jasper.
A generation earlier, her mother Grace Hamblin, loved two men, Freddie Valentine and Rufus, the earl of the estate where her father works as head gardener. Her love for Freddie was rooted in the lifelong friendship since childhood, years of playing together, growing together and falling from friendship into love. Her love for Rufus was romance, adult and sensual, intoxicating. But she married Freddie and he went off to WW2, coming back wounded and a cold, distant man. Her entire life, she longed for her lost love.
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is written with skill. The sense of place is powerful. You can picture the setting easily. I am less happy about the characterization. Most of the characters are types, not people.
If you love romance, particularly blighted and star-crossed romance, then you will probably like The Beekeeper’s Daughter. People of faith may appreciate the frequent allusions to prayer and faith as sources of strength and help. The women are as perfect as perfect can be. Trixie and Grace are paragons. So are some of their friends, but there are a slew of spiteful, snobbish, petty awful women who are their foils, even though some of them get their just desserts and become friends, of course. After they suffer!!!
I was incredibly disappointed in this book. It is so retrograde with its perfect heroines who suffer without complaint and do nothing, not one thing, to change their circumstance. Then there are the awful foils because, of course, if a man someone loves marries another woman, that woman has to be a harpy. Those women are not important characters, but it is an example of the sort of tropes that infect this book. My biggest complaint, though, is that these heroines have no agency. Grace is in an unhappy marriage, but does she do anything? Trixie loves Jasper and he loves her. Does she do anything to bring them happiness?
Of course not. This is a book for those who sit and wait and hope that all good things will come. That is the opposite of the kind of characters that draw me in.
I received a free copy of this book to review through a drawing at Goodreads Giveaways.