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October 17, 2008

The Secret Life of Bees: Now Playing at Your Local Theater

Posted by carol
I had the pleasure of going to an advance screening of The Secret Life of Bees movie on Wednesday night. What a lovely, beautifully shot and well-cast film. I really enjoyed it. There's not a dull spot (no looking at my watch here, which is my typical reaction at the movies when the action gets slow) and there are many wonderful moments of both acting and the creation of mood and setting. It also has a wonderful soundtrack, which definitely punctuates the story well. And yes, I know that having both Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson in the film MAY have helped with that. Dakota Fanning plays Lily with complete spunk and charm. (By the way, I was amused to look at Wikipedia today and see that Fanning is now a sophomore in high school and on the varsity cheering squad.)

The theater was filled with people from the Penguin Group, Sue Monk Kidd's publisher. Seated in front of me was Pam Dorman, the editor who discovered Kidd with this debut novel. Throughout the evening I was wondering what was racing through her head as she watched the movie. What fun it must be to have found a manuscript you loved, published it, had it become a huge success with millions of copies in print and then see the book adapted into film. Throughout the theater were other people I recognized from the marketing and publicity teams who had worked on the book, some of whom are now alumni of the house and working other places. Looking around the audience and recognizing these faces reminded me of just how many people it takes for a book to find its way into readers' hands.

I read The Secret Life of Bees years ago and enjoyed it, although I cannot recall scene by scene how the book is different from the film version. I do know the book "worked" for me --- meaning I found it something to hold my interest and it definitely struck a chord where I recommended it to others, many times over --- and so does the movie.

Going to this film with your book club after reading the book would be fun. As always, I suggest you read the book first. This time if you are a fan of the book and have time you may want to re-read it before you go, or when you get home, to see how the two compare. If you do go see the film with your club, or on your own, we'd love to hear what you think about it. Please comment below. We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

By the way, in response to your requests, our Books Into Movies section on now looks ahead two months to November and December releases. We also have added a Books Into Movies Now on DVD section, recognizing that many of you, like me, typically watch DVDs instead of heading to the theater.