A Recipe for Bees

Publisher: Vintage Canada
International Bestseller

Shortlisted for the 1998 Giller Prize

A Globe and Mail Notable Book of 1998

Over 40,000 copies sold in hardcover

In A Recipe for Bees, Gail Anderson-Dargatz gives readers a remarkable woman to stand beside Hagar Shipley and Daisy Goodwin — but Augusta Olsen also has attitude, a wicked funny bone, and the dubious gift of second sight.

At home in Courtenay, B.C., Augusta anxiously awaits news of her dearly loved son-in-law Gabe, who is undergoing brain surgery miles away in Victoria. Her best friend Rose is waiting for Augusta to call as soon as she hears. Through Rose, we begin to learn the story of Augusta's sometimes harsh, sometimes magical life: the startling vision of her mother's early death; the loneliness of her marriage to Karl and her battle with Karl's detestable father, Olaf. We are told of her gentle, platonic affair with a church minister, of her not-so-platonic affair with a man from the town, and the birth of her only child. We also learn of the special affinity between Rose and Augusta, who share the delights and exasperations of old age.

Just as The Cure for Death by Lightning offers recipes and remedies, A Recipe for Bees is saturated with bee lore, and is full of rich domestic detail, wondrous imagery culled from rural kitchens and gardens, shining insights into ageing, family and friendship. And at its heart, is the life, death and resurrection of an extraordinary marriage


From Chapter One

"Have I told you the drone's penis snaps off during intercourse with the queen bee?" asked Augusta.

"Yes," said Rose. "Many times."

Before Augusta dragged her luggage upstairs to the apartment, before she checked on the welfare of her elderly husband, Karl...
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The discussion topics and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's reading of Gail Anderson-Dargatz's A Recipe for Bees. We hope they will give you a number of interesting angles from which to consider this mesmerizing work of fiction, a novel that is full of rich domestic detail, wondrous...
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"Gail Anderson-Dargatz has something that no amount of craft can give a writer: She is hopelessly in love with and attentive to her subject, the physical world and all its gifts." -- The Globe and Mail

"A wonder to be cherished: a wise, beautiful and deeply felt novel that reminds us all that it's never too late to fall in love." -- Chris Bohjalian, author of Midwives

"Succeeds with unexpected elegance and energy... Margaret Laurence meets Gabriel García Márquez." -- Elm Street

"A richly textured, life-affirming novel teeming with the small, hard-won victories that make life not only bearable, but glorious." -- Kitchener-Waterloo Record

"She shares the rich vision of fellow Canadians Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro.... Wonderful, salty descriptions of the prairie and its people. This is a real discovery." -- The Mail on Sunday (UK)

“I ended up reading the book in one sitting, hardly noticing that I was getting burned by the Long Beach sun.” -- Geist Magazine

“(a) heady blend of earthy realism and romantic exoticism...This is a bravura work that in several ways recalls Carol Shields’s The Stone Diaries. What Gail Anderson-Dargatz has achieved is a commemoration of a lifestyle and a collection of characters that live on when the novel is finished.” -- The Times Literary Supplement