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The Beekeeper of Aleppo


This moving, intimate, and beautifully written novel puts human faces on the ...
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Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

Created: 06/17/20

Replies: 26

Posted Jun. 17, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 3058

Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?


Posted Jun. 26, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorinned

Join Date: 10/13/14

Posts: 176

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I gave this book a 3.5 star rating. I found the story a little hard to follow as it flashed back to Nuri and Afra's lives before the disruption of the civil war in their hometown of Aleppo, Syria, and forward to their arrival in England. It is an interesting and poignant look at the traumatic and dangerous circumstances facing refugees who are forced to leave their homelands to seek asylum in other countries.


Posted Jun. 26, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurief

Join Date: 09/08/12

Posts: 66

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I really enjoyed this book. In the beginning, I was absorbed in Nuri and Mustafa's beekeeping operation and their love for bees.

As the story progressed, one could feel the love and dedication Nuri had for Afra through their treacherous travels (and experiences) to seek safety in England.

Finally, Nuri reunites with Mustafa and Afra's recovery, their hopes and dreams are realized.

I would have liked the book to end with Nuri and Mustafa back with their bees but overall a great book.


Posted Jun. 26, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ChloesMom

Join Date: 05/10/15

Posts: 17

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I thought the book was well written. I found myself visualizing often, especially about the bees. I liked the characters. Living as we do in the US, it’s hard to imagine the horrors that others endure but I think it’s important to know.


Posted Jun. 26, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ScribblingScribe

Join Date: 02/29/16

Posts: 174

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I gave this book five stars. I liked it quite a lot. I thought it was written beautifully and kept me engaged in their story, from their home in Syria and every stop along the way. It was compelling and gave a clear look into the refugee experience. This is a book that will stay with me.


Posted Jun. 26, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
leslieh

Join Date: 02/03/12

Posts: 27

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I also gave the book 5 stars. I have told so many people to read it. I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to have to escape a home you love and go through the kinds of horrors they went through.


Posted Jun. 26, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mildas

Join Date: 05/11/16

Posts: 40

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I am sorry to say that I found the book difficult to get through. There are many books about immigration that I found much more interesting. Books like The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell, Paper Wife, Home Fries, A Woman is No Man etc etc The Beekeeper of Aleppo seemed very slow moving. I just could not relate to it.


Posted Jun. 27, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
catherynez

Join Date: 01/27/18

Posts: 82

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

Overall, I loved the book. I thought the writing was beautifully written and I enjoyed the alternating stories. The beekeeping explanations were interesting too. I really felt for the characters and their desperate situation. I enjoyed reading about the characters’ lives and struggles. I enjoyed reading about Nuri, Afra and Mustafa.


Posted Jun. 27, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
renem

Join Date: 12/01/16

Posts: 292

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

Thumbs up! I would highly recommend this book especially now with what our nation is going through with the pandemic. It will take you out of your own worries and make you feel grateful for what you have.


Posted Jun. 27, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
momo

Join Date: 04/03/19

Posts: 49

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I highly recommend the book! The story kept me engaged the entire time.


Posted Jun. 27, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ilenem

Join Date: 04/17/19

Posts: 29

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I loved this book. I was intrigued from the opening paragraph. The writing was wonderful. I felt as if I were on the journey with Nuri and Afra. It is difficult subject matter, but important to understand.


Posted Jun. 28, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
carolt

Join Date: 03/25/17

Posts: 181

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I really liked it. It was a little hard to get into, but once I was in, I was hooked.


Posted Jun. 29, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
vickic

Join Date: 09/15/14

Posts: 84

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Through these characters I was able to feel their hope, fears, anger and uncertainties, although only in the limited way possible when not going through the experience myself. It allowed me to imagine what the trauma of war and the associated loss and fear of the unknown they were experiencing. For those of us who have never lived through a war right in our own back yard, it provided some insight to the terrifying reality of being in the midst of destruction and violence, the difficult decision to leave all you have ever known to face an unknown in a place where you perhaps would not be wanted. A very good and insightful read. I would recommend it.


Posted Jun. 29, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Loveslife

Join Date: 08/01/15

Posts: 50

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I would recommend this book, but as some other readers mentioned it is a little difficult to follow at the beginning-especially when the story goes back and forth with story lines in the past and present. I felt the author was able to help the reader connect with the tragedies and hopelessness that people caught up in the middle of conflicts endure. It is almost unimaginable except by people who survived and those committed to helping them.


Posted Jul. 01, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckys

Join Date: 08/12/16

Posts: 169

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I really liked this book .. thought it was well written, love the way she used the bees throughout the story to interject hope and life .. I connected with the characters and was hoping that their lives would be better for going on this stressful journey. I did find it a little hard to follow when the author was going back and forth with flashbacks and also what was inside Nuris mind , but overall, loved the story and the way it was written.


Posted Jul. 01, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
neldab

Join Date: 07/01/20

Posts: 4

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

It felt like an authentic voice of an immigrant who has fled a violent country.


Posted Jul. 02, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
charleneds

Join Date: 03/21/17

Posts: 68

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I loved it. A friend had recommended it last year. I am so glad I read it and I feel like it is a must read for people because it really brought home what it's like to be a refuge and what they have to go through to survive. No matter what I have read or watched in the news about the situation in Syria, nothing has impacted me as much as this book did.


Posted Jul. 02, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
terriej

Join Date: 07/28/11

Posts: 373

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I thought it was a wonderful book. It was timely with the refugee situation the world is currently in. It helped me to understand what the refugees go through and what they are leaving. I mentioned this book to my book club and several of them already had in on their reading lists. I thought the book was well written and easy to follow.


Posted Jul. 05, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jamiek

Join Date: 11/21/17

Posts: 42

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I really liked it. It was one of those books that was so hard to read, but also hard to put down. I found it so sad, as I couldn't imagine living in a city like Aleppo where bombs are going off and life is never secure. I also loved the continuing saga of bees, especially the one saved by Nuri's friend; how well it was taken care of made it seem like there was hope for the refugees, especially if people would open up their hearts and minds and offer compassion to these strangers who have suffered so much. Nuri's wife was an especially well thought out and written character. Despite her condition, she was perceptive and saw so many things that Nuri couldn't or wouldn't allow himself to.


Posted Jul. 08, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sallyh

Join Date: 09/07/12

Posts: 124

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I found it a little difficult to follow, but liked it and would recommend it.


Posted Jul. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 381

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

In spite of the devastating subject matter, I found this book to be a beautiful representation of the spirit of people who just want to live their lives and be safe doing so. Making the choice to leave the only home you have ever known cannot be easy. When Nuri thought back to his life in Syria, he focused equally on the good parts (the bees, the sunset over the desert, his friendships)- -I think this must make it harder to decide to go.

I do agree with mildas, the book did move slowly. But as much as I wanted Nuri and Afra to hurry up and get there, that is not how migration works. Each step forward in the journey is followed by two steps back. I think the author did a wonderful job recreating the tension and stress that migrants feel throughout the journey.


Posted Jul. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
preetac

Join Date: 07/09/20

Posts: 1

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

Poignant. Sensitive.
The journey towards freedom is fraught with hope, uncertainty, fear and a strong desire and determination to survive.
Documenting the journey of Nuri and Afra from Aleppo into Freedom it potrays different Lands.... different milieus.....different people…… their trials and tribulations bring to fore the very essence of fight to human survival.
Each character in the book is extremely well etched and come to life oh so easily.
There are times when reading it … one is overwhelmed and falls prey to low feelings . However, strength and hope survive in the end.
A great insight into the Syrian refugees fleeing their country in search of a new dawn.


Posted Jul. 10, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MimiJo

Join Date: 02/28/20

Posts: 29

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

The more I read this book, the more I liked it. It did seem like it was taking them a long time to get from one place to another, but then each spot entailed more difficulties and you were always wondering if they would make it to their final destination.


Posted Jul. 12, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djcminor

Join Date: 03/14/19

Posts: 184

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I will recommend The Beekeeper of Aleppo to friends. It is an emotionally draining story, but it is also an important story about freedom.


Posted Jul. 12, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
poniesnpearls

Join Date: 06/28/11

Posts: 71

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I really liked the book. The writing and story were very good and once I got used to how the story jumped around some, it was easy to follow. The characters were well-developed and the struggle to escape death and destruction were described in enough detail to help the reader understand the situation Nuri and Afra faced. I would recommend this book to friends.


Posted Aug. 03, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Shantha

Join Date: 08/03/20

Posts: 1

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

My immediate response and comments soon after I’d completed reading the book

Loved it. Strongly recommend.

Screaming news headlines, even the visuals on TV headlines have left me wondering what the life of refugees and asylum seekers was like. This book gives shape to that from the start of the journey, in fact, from when and how the decision to leave one’s own country is made unto the end when the doors of home are opened to another country.

The journey holds no suspense ‘cos the chapters move between the reality of the present when Nuri has already arrived in England and his memories of the past he has left behind in Aleppo. And yet, it is gripping cos we are taken directly into the heart of how the journey was made. Every page turns like that of a diary: one that is written, day after day, with such precision of details of location, vivid descriptions of the terrain/neighbourhood/surroundings and of those who come into contact with him, either close and direct or seen at a distance, that we feel we are actually there in the room, in the dark woods, in the smuggler’s apartment, under the tent, covered by blankets…we can visualize it so clearly. It is also a diary of emotional and psychological intensity that is conveyed in language so clear and open, not obscure or thickly dark which one may expect of the mind of an individual with PTSD. This makes reading this book easy, it is accessible without losing its depth.

The subject being dealt with is one of loss, trauma, suffering, the violence and wastefulness of war…everything that is destructive of life and living. Yet, and to me, this was remarkable – the tone is almost fresh, gently flowing like a stream and I almost glided along this narrative. It isn’t fragmented, although their life is and very much so; it isn’t harshly sharp – not even when Mustafa’s son, Firas, is killed or Nuri forgets the key... The tone remains gentle because of reflections that nourish the human spirit, with briefly but calmly spoken lines of conversation, with pleasant memories, glimpses of the beauty of Syria, juxtaposed with moments of conflict, pain, uncertainty, frustration, lurking danger …and I could read them with a degree of calmness that can only come with a corresponding degree of understanding, acceptance of reality and above all, a fervent hope to realise the distant dream. This response in me is actually prompted by the authorial voice and the manner in which her protagonist, Nuri and his wife, Afra, especially the latter, are touched by the situations they face and by each other.

“The novel is about profound loss but it is also about love and finding light” says the author in her letter to the reader at the end of the book. This is reflected not only in the tone, the language, but in the feel and texture of the novel. Dealing as the novel does with the most horrific circumstances of refugees, families lost and afraid, children with beautiful marbles and Legos rudely wrenched from their lovely little hands and killed by bomb explosions, or shot and drowned in a river, and all escaping from war-torn regions, one would expect darkness, gloomy forebodings, the darkness of musty, old and heavy velvet. But throughout the novel, I felt enveloped by a shimmering light that broke through misty dawns, translucent veils of gossamer spreading over even the dark patches that sometimes surfaced when wrists were slashed or innocent twins were taken…there is a sense of fragility even as we read of the resilience and strength of women, of whom Afra is the best example in the novel, a sense of delicate footsteps being taken to show care and support (Nuri stepping into Diomande’s room to pull the covers over him thinking he might be cold), not always knowing how…I felt as if my hands were holding a broad sheet of glass, that constantly caught glimpses of sunlight and that somehow, before I put it down, will find light and love. And it did: Afra’s words to Nuri who apologises for having forgotten the key, are simple, yet poignant, “you forgot about us”. In the author’s own words, “It is only when they allow themselves to see, to feel the presence and love of one another, that they can start to make the journey towards survival and renewal”.

I found the way the chapters are linked visually and verbally very creative and interesting: a bee and number for one alternated with a connecting word for the next: “Yes”, I say,” of course it is. And then we will go…(end of chapter)… Away - as the next chapter is titled…to the moon….”. Very well crafted. Not to overlook the design of enclosing the link word in a fine flower motif, almost like a delicate pencil drawing. Similar motifs also form the outline of not just the map of Syria but that of Nuri’s and Afra’s journey at the end of the book. Elegantly designed, as much as the cover of the book I had on my Kindle: a shimmering delicate light blue with outstretched protective palms, not holding, but within which is seen a vulnerable bee.

Nuri and Afra, Mustafa, Sami and Mohammed..., Diomande, the Moroccan man, Nadim, Angeliki with her leaking breasts, and everyone else Nuri meets on the journey, every character is interestingly and fully fleshed out – not just passing shadows but cameos felt in flesh and blood, they have a life of their own. We can see them as they are and hear them when they speak. The author’s experience from her volunteer work at the refugee centre in Greece, surely shows and characterization in this novel is in-depth. The young mother whose exuberance, when at last, after days of waiting, can breastfeed her child is based, says Christy Lefteri, on an incident she was witness to, and yet, such details are not merely documented; they are transformed into precious nuggets in the author’s skill for story-telling.

The whole spread of hives and bees, Nuri’s and Mustafa’s passion for them, the way they used to stand exposed in the apiaries with the bees all around them, the bee in the garden of the B&B with its cherry tree…. the buzz echoes and resounds thro almost every page, without being an intrusion. Some of the best lines in the novel with its abundant outpouring of colours in every description, lines almost fascinatingly poetic, are when Nuri lives with the bees either in reality or in his memories.

Initially, I wondered if I should be reading this novel at this time of the pandemic. Having read it, I think this is the best time I could have...it made me realise how much we have to be grateful for, how important it is to count our blessings and yes, if every hour of loss and its accompanying grief, even of another, opens our eyes, we can truly see and reflect. The insights we gain do not depend on our ability to just see with our eyes. Afra drives this truth home to us when she, without a trace of reproach in her voice, asks Nuri,
‘’ ‘Can you see the bees, Nuri? Try to see them in your mind. Hundreds and thousands of them in the sunlight, on the flowers, the hives and the honeycomb. Can you see it?’. In my mind I picture first the fields in Aleppo and the golden yellow bees in the apiaries, and then I see the fields of heather and lavender, the black bees that Mustafa described.
‘Can you see it?’ she says. I don’t reply. ‘You think it’s me who can’t see,’ she says. We sit in silence for a long time”.

As I put the book down, many images remain: the horrors of war (scenes of destruction in Aleppo), the underbelly/plight of refugee centres (Athens), desperate journeys to lands not one’s own (from Syria to England), loss of loved ones (Sami, family and friends) and the suffering this loss can impact on those loved ones who remain (Nuri’s emotional distancing from Afra, even as he tries to connect with her). But loveliness wraps the lasting image that drops anchor in my mind. There is “light and honey and flowers in the darkness” (to quote from the author’s acknowledgement to Vicki Satlow)...there is hope, love and light.


Posted Aug. 04, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kdowney25

Join Date: 01/25/16

Posts: 160

RE: Overall, what do you think of The Beekeeper of Aleppo? No spoilers in this thread, please?

I really liked the story, the characters seemed like real people to me, people who had seen atrocities and experienced tragedies. I found the flashbacks or skipping around in the timeline a bit confusing, but overall I really enjoyed this book.


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