Hello fellow bookworms!
At the start of the year I announced that I had joined a book club (#TsundokuSquad) and today I am sharing our groups thoughts on our latest read The Beekeeper of Aleppo. This month we had a slightly smaller group as some people had already read the book.
Title: The Beekeeper of Aleppo
Author: Christy Lefteri
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 4.20
#TsundokuSquad Average Rating:
Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.
As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.
Moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling.
In the midst of war, he found love.
In the midst of darkness, he found courage.
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
What will you find from his story?
For this read we broke the book down into four sections and had weekly catch ups to see what we all thought. Below is a sum up of our weekly thoughts.
During this week’s discussion one thing we all found hard to swallow was how recent these events were occurring. We all agreed that aside from the mention of mobile phones and emails this felt that it should be happening in the 1940’s not 2011! Even worse was the fact that these events are based on real stories which broke our hearts a little more. Despite the sadness, we are all enjoying the read. The back and forth between Afra and Nuri’s journey and when they are in England keeps the pace of the book going and we’re all intrigued to see how the journey unfolds. Another lovely touch is the single word chapters that join the book together. If you’ve read the book then you’ll know what we mean but words such as hope, the waves, away are all used as bridging points. We are also enjoying learning more about bee’s, in particular the bee farm that Mustafa and Nuri had. At the moment it is an even split in the group with half of us rating the book 3.5 and the other half sitting at a 4.
As Nuri and Afra’s journey continues as a group we can’t help but feel heartbroken for them. Again we are still struggling with how recent these events are nevertheless it is still enjoyable to read. This week we saw the introduction of a new character Mohammed and he has certainly added some more mystery to the story, we also heard from Nuri’s cousin Mustafa which felt like a little ray of sunshine in this section. We are all hoping that the two cousin’s will meet again and be reunited in England. The chapters that take us through Nuri and Afra’s journey are illuminating to life as a refugee. The descriptions are vivid and harrowing, something a lot of us are grateful we’ve never had to face. This week ratings we have myself sticking at a 3.5 and everyone else at a 4.
During this weeks section it’s getting harder and harder to think of this as a work of fiction, especially given what is currently happening in Kabul. Aside from Nuri’s story the group also feel deep sympathy to others that have been introduced. We’ve come to expect heartache from this story but as a group we are all hopeful for some good news for both Afra and Nuri. It was interesting to learn more about Afra’s blindness and the cause of it, a lot of us believe it is psychosomatic after witnessing Suri’s death. Nuri’s suffering is absolutely breaking us though, he is clearly suffering from PTSD and unwilling to admit it. Mohammed still remains a mystery to us and we all wondered what happened to him. A lot of us believe he is dead as he is appearing to Nuri in visions and Kath has predicted that he isn’t real at all which we thought was an interesting angle. This week ratings we have the majority of us sitting at a 4 and one person at a 5.
This was our final section of the read and as a group we found it quite emotional. We were almost at a loss for words for how to sum this read up. There were moments, particularly with Afra that were devastating but it did explain why Nuri was so broken but we did also have some beautiful moments that involved Suri, Mohammed and Mustafa. We were all in agreement that this was a very easy read and the writing, descriptions were beautiful. The characters and their stories were well developed and it was interesting to read a story from the POV of a refugee. Some of us struggled to hold the tears back and we honestly felt that we understood life as a refugee more than when we had started the book. Quite a few of us want to go on to read Christy Lefteri’s latest release Songbird so we shall be adding that to the list for next year! Our final group rating was 4.5/5.
As a group we always like to sum up our weekly sections with three words. I have collated the words for the entire month, which you can see summed up below….