Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Book Review: Waiting for the Bee Stings by Calvin Wade.

Waiting for the Bee Stings by Calvin Wade.

Some of the very best stories are the simplest. In Waiting for the Bees Stings, we have a prime example. This is a story about missed opportunities, bad timing and renewal. Four friends bound by shared secrets and the damage those secrets can wreak.

The character list is few, six souls all linked by unrequited passions and lies. For Jason, Mia will always be the one that got away.To Mia, Gary is the man she trusted despite her better judgement. To Chrissie, Jason is the man of her dreams. Gary is a law to himself, secretly playing them all off of each other. A fine mess  they make in their callow youth, but now they have all met Forty, only misfortune, revelation and recrimination can follow.

Reunited by Chrissie’s untimely passing, these four friends and the secrets of their student days are laid bare, leaving them all changed affected in ways none of them can expect.

This is a simply structured story with Mia and Jason both chronicling the  hectic rather than halcyon days of their student life and also bringing their story into the modern day with  their meeting at a funeral and the gentle unravelling of the secrets of the past and their gravitational pull toward each other, bonds forged in the past seem to have remained despite self imposed estrangement.

Their two points of view are woven with deft skill and the story of their burgeoning relationship is sweet, but always grounded in realism

Mia’s discovery and reaction to her husband’s  Marital infidelity are dealt with in a subtle way (despite her naked confrontation !) There is no disputing  Gary is a bounder and a cad, but his part in the story rings true and reveals his vulnerability despite my utter dislike for him.

Had this been a more hackneyed depiction of love unrequited, I  would have questioned quite frankly how Mia ever landed up with Gary in the first place! Even  with a painfully shy and tentative  Jason pulling back vital points, Gary is quite obviously  not a great fit, but this book is honest and authentic and all the better for it. Bad matches are indeed forged when true love is thwarted.

Mia’s children are also beautifully described, their reactions to the evolution of their parent’s break up and Jason’s gradual absorption into their presumed idyl is done with humour, sympathy and an obvious attention to how children react and adapt to change. (Esme might just be my spirit animal!)

This is a great book, both absorbing and truthful. For me though, what added the most delicious frisson of joy,was the fact it was based in the lovely  Ormskirk.  The home of my own crazy student days, I have to admit to many a  night spent in the hostelries there and as familiar haunts and places were mentioned, my mind flew back to my own drunken declarations of undying love, misunderstandings and the lasting friendships born of that time.

This being my first foray  with Calvin Wade, I feel pretty sure, we will be journeying again.

 A Marvellous start to my reading year!

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