The Death of Bees

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The Death of Bees
Author Lisa O’Donnell
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Publisher Windmill Books
Publication date
January 2, 2013
Media type Hardcover, paperback, e-book
Pages 304 pages
ISBN 0099558424

The Death of Bees is a 2013 debut novel by Lisa O’Donnell.[1] The book was published on January 2, 2013, in the United Kingdom and United States by Windmill Books.[2] Told through multiple viewpoints, and written in the present tense, The Death of Bees focuses on how the death of two local drug addicts affects their daughters Marnie and Nelly and the people around them.[3] The novel won the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize (Canada and Europe region).[4]


After Marnie discovers the dead bodies of her parents, she and her sister decide against reporting the deaths to the police and instead bury their bodies. Reporting the death would mean social services stepping in and placing them in foster care. The sisters' lie about the disappearance of their parents is initially believed because their parents are considered unreliable drug addicts by many in the community. This lie is eventually uncovered by their homosexual neighbor Lennie, who takes them in and cares for them. Despite Lennie's care and kindness, Marnie and Nelly are both haunted by the ghosts of their past. Nelly wakes up screaming in the night because of memories of her father molesting her while Marnie drowns her sorrows by drinking, selling drugs, and sleeping with a married man. When their maternal grandfather discovers the situation and insists on taking the two girls in, Lennie becomes intent on keeping them by his side.[5]


Critical reception for the book was positive,[6][7][8] with The Scotsman praising the book.[9] The Herald called the book "hard to put down" while Publishers Weekly also praised the book but found Nelly to be a "less believable character".[10][11]



  1. ^ "First Writes: Lisa O'Donnell, author of The Death of Bees". The List. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "Fiction Reviews: November 1, 2012". Library Journal. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "Book Club: The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell". Daily Record. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Commonwealth Writers announces regional winners for 2013 prizes". Commonwealth Writers. 16 May 2013. Archived from the original on 12 August 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Review: The Death of Bees". Booklist. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Cross, Stephanie (22 March 2012). "Lisa O'Donnell: The Death Of Bees (Random House)". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "Catherine Taylor's first novel choice – reviews". London: Guardian. 30 March 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Backyard secret". Financial Times. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "Book review: The Death of Bees". Scotsman. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  10. ^ "Review: The Death of Bees". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "Review: The Death Of Bees". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "ANOBII FIRST BOOK AWARD". Edinburgh Book Festival. Retrieved 6 December 2012. 
  13. ^ Charlotte Williams (31 May 2013). "O'Donnell wins Commonwealth Book Prize". The Bookseller. Retrieved June 1, 2013. 

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