The Murmur of Bees
Fans of "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and "Bless Me, Ultima" will welcome this tale of love and magic.
Sofia Segovia, translated by Simon Bruni – print publication 2015, audio publication 2019
I listened to this audiobook over a period of three weeks or so; I had started and stopped it at least once before committing to listen to the whole story. I can’t say why it took me a while to engage with the characters, but that slow start was soon forgotten as I was caught up in a story of magic, loyalty, and love.
Left to die at the side of the road because of his cleft palate, the infant Simonopio lives, thanks to the bees that blanket him with the warmth of their beating wings until he is found. He is raised by landowners Francisco and Beatriz Morales and by the bees, who continue to guide and protect him. In turn, Simonopio protects and cares for Francisco Morales Junior.
This exquisitely crafted story, filled with a mythic magic that feels bigger than the story itself, unfolds against the backdrop of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and the Mexican Revolution, both of which have profound impacts on the Morales family and on their city of Linares. The point of view moves among among several characters – Francisco Junior speaks in the first person, while Simonopio, Francisco Senior, and Beatriz are all portrayed in third person.
Narrators are Xe Sands and Angelo Di Loreto. Although I preferred Di Loreto, Sands was fine, and eventually I became so engrossed in the story I didn’t care who was speaking.
I don’t know that I have the tools to evaluate a translator or his translation. Actually, I know I don’t have those tools – but this prose is lyrical, sometimes courtly, and sometimes gently humorous. In my uneducated opinion, Simon Bruni’s translation is lovely.
I appreciate a story that intrigues me enough to do some additional research, and that’s exactly what I did after listening to the last, very moving, line of this audiobook. You might be moved to do the same – and what better way to learn about history and geography?
Mostly because of Angelo Di Loreto’s narration, I recommend that you enjoy The Murmur of Bees in audio format. I don’t think you’ll be sorry .