Sunday, August 12, 2007

Book Review: "Robbing the Bees"

It's rare that I don't finish a book (in fact I think this is only the second time this year). But Holley Bishop's Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey, the Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World just didn't do it for me. After the grave error on page 36-37 my credulity was strained to the breaking point, and because the book got even more repetitive and breezy as I read further, I quit about halfway through.

Bishop's discussions of how bees and honey were seen and used through history are mildly interesting, or would have been if she'd put them into a coherent order. Likewise her semi-journalistic accounts of visiting a large Florida honey operation had potential, but I was put off by the fact that she compressed stories from three years' worth of visits into one year. This style of writing can be excellent in capable hands (see Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief, for example), but Bishop's effort falls flat.