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THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO BY CHRISTY LEFTERI

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

Click on each name to read the review. If you would like to become part of the Viking Book Club, sign up sign up here >>

REVIEWS

Sue Ward

The author spent time volunteering at a UNICEF supported refugee centre in Athens and was inspired to write this fiction book based on the stories of some of the refugees.

Nuri is a beekeeper and his wife Afra is an artist. They are forced to leave Syria when their city is destroyed and they lose their son. The book follows their horrendous journey from Aleppo through Turkey and Greece and finally to the UK. Once in the UK I felt ashamed at the way they were treated after all they had endured.

The book is sensitively written but does not shy away from man’s enormous capacity for evil and exploitation towards his fellow men. The bees are a symbol of vulnerability, life and hope and Nuri is encouraged in his quest to reach the UK by the fact that his beekeeper cousin has reached Yorkshire and is teaching fellow refugees how to keep bees.

The story inspires a belief in the human spirit and courage to overcome tremendous suffering. It is well written and a thoroughly good read.

Thank you Viking for giving me the opportunity to review the book.

John Wilson

This book is not the sort of book I would normally read, and to be perfectly honest, I can’t say that I enjoyed reading it.

It was very well-written however, and the author obviously knew her subject, though I don’t really see the reference to the bee-keeping adds anything to the book - perhaps I’m missing something?

I also don’t really like books that go backwards and forwards in time - I find them confusing and sometimes difficult to follow- especially when I’m not really enjoying the book.

One thing I did like was the way she connected chapters with a common word - she’d obviously though carefully about that.

As far as the characters are concerned, I didn’t really feel any empathy towards them. They seemed very complex and not terribly likeable.

So overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book, mainly because it’s not my sort of book. I’m sure others will find it very readable.

Alan Trickett

This book is a fascinating and very interesting read. Although it is fiction, it is written based on the author’s actual experience working in refugee camps and on the streets of Athens, during the 2017 period when huge numbers of people were trying to escape from war torn Syria, Afghanistan and various African nations.

The main characters are Nuri and his visually impaired wife, who are trying to get to England to meet up with Nuri’s cousin, with a view to starting a new business centred on bees, honey and it’s by products from the bees. In Syria, before the troubles, they had a very successful business but this was destroyed in front of their own eyes by The Military, and after the death of their only child, felt they had to get a new start.

At no time is it sensationalised or sentimentalised but the story is told with hard truths and with sympathy.

This was an excellent book and one that I enjoyed reading and will re-visit it again in the future.

Gordon Edwards

Well written book, the author has really got into the mind of a refugee escaping the horrors of war.

Trying to protect his family he has so little but is prepared to give and share. The little bee that has lost his wings is made to feel safe, perhaps we should all have a ‘little bee’ to look after to care for. We all know what it is to feel and be at home in our country, to leave for any of us with so little would be the most heart-breaking thing to happen. Leaving behind ones roots and family traditions and to travel over many different countries and to arrive in a place where it must seem totally bewildering must be one of the hardest thing in life to accept. We all must learn to be more tolerant with each other to try and create a harmonious world to live in.

Jennifer Pearson

This beautiful, moving novel tells the story of a traumatised Syrian couple, Nuri and Afra, who flee the bombing of Aleppo after the death of their nine-year-old son. It is a harrowing account of their attempt to reach England via refugee camps in Turkey and Greece, where they experience great hardship and danger. Afra has been blinded, and Nuri is only sustained by the thought of joining his cousin Mustafa, a fellow beekeeper, who is already in Yorkshire.

This is a gripping story of love and desperation. The author has lived and worked with refugees, so the writing is honest and authentic, but also beautifully crafted. Her descriptions bring every scene to life: the tension, the squalor and the unbearable stress and uncertainty, but also the occasional beauty and, most of all, the love and determination of the couple. At first I found the episodic nature of the writing, moving between different time-frames, confusing: but I soon realised that Lefteri uses the present and past tenses to distinguish between them.

A gripping read, and a moving and memorable book.

James Geekie

Read this and feel how it is to be a refugee fleeing from a war. Nuri and Afra are in a B&B in an English seaside resort anxiously awaiting to learn the result of their asylum application.

They have suffered grievously in the Syrian civil war - their young son has been killed and Afra has lost her eyesight. She is so traumatised that she does not want to join Nuri in his quest to reach Britain and his friend, Mustafa, who has already settled there.

Drawing on her experience of working with refugees, Christy Lefteri vividly conveys the trials of their journey. They are dependent on others for food, shelter and safety. They are so numbed that terrible deeds such as murder and child exploitation become every day. Their minds have been affected, so they cannot find peace.

Despite all this misery, Lefteri finds hope in Nuri’s determination to survive and in the way that the couple gradually rebuild their relationship. Afra shows some signs of recovering and Nuri masters his hallucinations and meets Mustafa. He is no longer like the wingless bee he nurses in the garden. Once again he will become a member of a structured and successful society.