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The Mistress Of The Bees

The Mistress Of The Bees cover

We are back, in the “Swinging ’Sixties”. A world of iconoclasm and pleasure-seeking. Above all, of release from the iron grip of the immediate postwar era, with its pieties, austerities and constraints. A world of popculture – with its songs, music and laughter, from Tom Lehrer to “Beyond the Fringe”; from Chubby Checker to The Beatles. A world of celebrities and divas, from Bridget Bardot to Jane Birkin. We had never had it so good – had we?

Set mainly in the South of France in summertime, inland from St Tropez, five bright and beautiful young people – two women and three men – meet up there, for a holiday of fun and sun. But one of them is doomed. The remaining four go their ways. Two, to get married; one, to fight insurgents in the Arab Gulf. The fifth character – in effect, the narrator – takes up residence in a community in Norfolk, to think things through.

Leslie Fielding’s witty novel about hippie high-life among the bourgeoisie, is about “the way we were then”. There is laughter, excitement, romance and mystery. Also a compelling cast of sympathetic characters, affectionately but shrewdly observed, who positively leap out of the pages. The reader will readily, at least in part, identify with each of them; and, in doing so, recall – or discover – the spirit of the age in which they lived.

The novel is dedicated to all who love freedom, to all who are free to love, and to all who see that love is greater than freedom.

The Mistress of the Bees – a modern romance in every sense of the words – is a tale told by a detached and sophisticated observer, who understands – and enjoys – his subjects’ profanity. Fielding’s elegant writing is witty, waspish, affectionate and philosophical, shot through with his love for ritual, tradition and the moral imperative. A vintage read.
Peter Burden - author of ‘News of the world? Fake Sheikhs & Royal Trappings’, ‘Rags’, ’Warrior’s Son’, ‘Pyon’; ‘Bearing Gifts’.
 
Once in my hands, I couldn’t put it down. The novel combines mystery and metaphysics, action and argument, delight and dialectic – bodies, lives and minds hurtling into each other with unforeseeable outcomes …. Like Alice, we look through the keyhole of a summer holiday and are ushered into a whole world of encounter. Beautifully written, skilfully conceived – a peach of a read.
Canon Gavin Ashenden, Chaplain and Senior Lecturer in English, University of Sussex, Chaplain to the Queen.

Leslie Fielding weaves together wide-ranging narration – description, observation, insight – with convincing and natural dialogue. The key character comes across as a believable, ‘wholesome’, fairly innocent, no-side, American girl, adrift in youthful promiscuity – a woman of her time.
Elsie Burch Donald (author of ‘A Model American’, ‘A Rope of Sand’, etc.)
 
 

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