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Telling the Bees

Peggy Hesketh

Albert Honig’s most constant companions have always been his bees. A never-married octogenarian, he makes a modest living as a beekeeper, as his father and his father’s father did before him. Deeply acquainted with the workings of his hives, Albert is less versed in the ways of people, especially his neighbour Claire, whose beauty and vivaciousness transformed his young life. Yet years passed by, feelings were repressed, and chances missed.

Until one day Albert, led by a trail of bees, discovers Claire’s body. Through the quiet minutiae of life, he begins to examine the truths that lay hidden under the secrets and silence that hovered between them for so long. With echoes of The Remains of the Day, Telling the Bees is a haunting novel about lies of omission and commission, the persistence of regret, and the sweet anguish of re-opening wounds in order to finally heal them.

  • Publication date: June 4, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781780748016
  • RRP: £8.99
  • Pages: 320
  • Publication date: April 1, 2013
  • ISBN: 9781780742182
  • RRP: £4.99
  • Pages: 320


'What a wonderful novel! The voice is so masterfully done, the mysteries of life and death so compellingly evoked.'

Karen Joy Fowler, author of We are All Completely Beside Ourselves

‘A marvel. With infinite compassion and perfect pitch, Peggy Hesketh has written an American classic.’



Elizabeth George, author of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries

‘In her invention of the singular Mr. Honig (and his life, from an early age) Hesketh has created a stubborn and enigmatic and duplicitously withholding character whose life story is nonetheless told richly, in turns melancholy, exhilarating, sociological, with a murder mystery and a deep appreciation for the stories we all construct for ourselves and for others.’


OC Weekly

‘A gem.’


Good Housekeeping

‘A stately and beautiful novelOnly a superhuman reader will be able to resist foraging through the house looking for that half-eaten jar of honey.




Washington PostCarolyn See

‘An undeniably original debut.’


Kirkus Reviews

‘A story of shared history, secrets of omission, and revisited memories, Telling the Bees is nostalgic and hauntingly poetic.  Richly detailed and sparsely populated … Reminiscent of the work of Karen Joy Fowler and Peter Orner, Telling the Bees reminds readers that even quiet hives are deceptively active.’






Reminiscent of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, Hesketh’s debut explores family secrets and end-of-life reflections. The author’s exceptional storytelling skills allow us not only to understand Albert’s feelings, but to experience those emotions right along with him. Readers in search of a heartfelt, thought-provoking novel will find what they are looking for in this journey through the life of an unassuming apiarist who knows more about his reclusive neighbors than anyone could guess.’




Library Journal, starred review

‘Elegantly crafted … While readers are likely to find themselves longing for a plate of buttered toast and honey, there’s nothing ‘cozy’ about Telling the Bees – it’s downright gorgeous.’


Christian Science Monitor

'An engrossing and unputdownable read.'

New Internationalist

'‘Like Albert himself, Peggy Hesketh’s debut novel, Telling the Bees, feels like something from another time. Though Hesketh does tackle some difficult material, she does so with a graceful sensibility, never veering into the sordid or macabre. Elegiac in its tone, Telling the Bees is a quiet, meditative novel, dressed up as a murder mystery, but more geared towards examining the intricacies of the human condition and the power of secrets when voiced than in identifying who killed Claire. As Albert slowly sifts through his fragile memories of the past, patient readers will be rewarded with a rich story that softly stings and is utterly unforgettable.’



'Touching and captivating.'

Press Association

Peggy Hesketh

Peggy Hesketh is a journalist and author, and currently teaches writing and rhetoric at the University of California. Her short story ‘A Madness of Two’ was selected by Elizabeth George for inclusion in her anthology Two of the Deadliest.

Author page

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