Sunday Review–The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia

Hello all! Today is Sunday and it’s going to be one of those reviews where I won’t have those parts where I describe the ones I didn’t like and ones I like. Today, I will be doing a review in one of the most phenomenal books I have read–The Murmur of Bees, written by Sofia Segovia. The original was written in Spanish but was translated into English by Simon Bruni.

The Murmur of Bees by [Sofía Segovia, Simon Bruni]

From a beguiling voice in Mexican fiction comes an astonishing novel—her first to be translated into English—about a mysterious child with the power to change a family’s history in a country on the verge of revolution.

From the day that old Nana Reja found a baby abandoned under a bridge, the life of a small Mexican town forever changed. Disfigured and covered in a blanket of bees, little Simonopio is for some locals the stuff of superstition, a child kissed by the devil. But he is welcomed by landowners Francisco and Beatriz Morales, who adopt him and care for him as if he were their own. As he grows up, Simonopio becomes a cause for wonder to the Morales family, because when the uncannily gifted child closes his eyes, he can see what no one else can—visions of all that’s yet to come, both beautiful and dangerous. Followed by his protective swarm of bees and living to deliver his adoptive family from threats—both human and those of nature—Simonopio’s purpose in Linares will, in time, be divined.

Set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution and the devastating influenza of 1918, The Murmur of Bees captures both the fate of a country in flux and the destiny of one family that has put their love, faith, and future in the unbelievable.

  • Hardcover: 476 pages
  • Publisher: Amazon Crossing (April 16, 2019)
  • Language: English (original in Spanish)
  • Genre: Literary Fiction/Historical Fiction
Sofía Segovia

Sofía Segovia was born in Monterrey, Mexico. She studied communications at Universidad de Monterrey, thinking mistakenly that she would be a journalist. But fiction is her first love. A creative writing teacher, she has also been a ghostwriter and communications director for local political campaigns and has written several plays for local theater. Her novels include Noche de huracán (Night of the Hurricane), El murmullo de las abejas (The Murmur of Bees)–which was called the literary discovery of the year by Penguin Random House and named Novel of the Year by iTunes–and Huracán. Sofía likes to travel the world, but she loves coming home to her husband, three children, two dogs, and cat. She writes her best surrounded and inspired by their joyous chaos.

Simon Bruni

Simon Bruni translates literary works from Spanish, a language he acquired through total immersion living in Alicante, Valencia, and Santander. He studied Spanish and linguistics at Queen Mary University of London and literary translation at the University of Exeter.

Simon’s many published translations include novels, short stories, video games, and nonfiction publications, and he is the winner of three John Dryden awards: in 2017 and 2015 for Paul Pen’s short stories “Cinnamon” and “The Porcelain Boy,” and in 2011 for Francisco Pérez Gandul’s novel Cell 211. His translations of Paul Pen’s The Light of the Fireflies and Sofía Segovia’s The Murmur of Bees have both become international bestsellers.

I read this book through Kindle unlimited at a discounted price. Because the rating and the review were favorable, I decided to try out this book and I must say, I am not disappointed.

In a nutshell, the story is set in Mexico somewhere in the 1900s. The story begins with the sudden disappearance of Nana Reja, who raised Francisco Morales and the search party discovers her under a bridge along with a child. The baby is named Simonopio and he has such a disfigured face that the community thinks that he was being cursed as he was”kissed” by the devil. However, Francisco and his wife Beatriz raise Simonopio as their own son. Simonopio then gets older, surrounded by a swarm of bees. He has an innate ability to communicate with the bees and also the ability to see the future–whether it is good or dangerous.

The story is set in the backdrop of Mexican Revolution in 1910 and the Spanish Flu that ravaged in parts of Mexico (and other parts of the world) in 1918 (kind of like Covid-19 now). Basically this book is also a historical fiction and a sort of like a family saga. The main narrator of the story is Francisco Junior, the younger son of Francisco and Beatriz. The story switches sometimes back and forth, present to past and then present, where it was seen the Francisco was narrating this life story to the taxi driver Nico on the way to Linares. The story tells actually how Simonopio affected the lives of the Morales family, particularly Francisco Junior who develops a close brotherly bond with Simonopio.

I really like the author’s style of writing–it was expressive, emotional and easy to understand. The author does a good job of drawing the reader into that era and you can feel that you are also a part of the story. I also think the translator did a great job translating the book.

I also like how the author used the story of lion and coyote to illustrate the relationship between Simonopi who is the lion and the main antagonist of the story, Anselmo Espiricueta (the coyote). Towards the middle and ending of the story, the story gets a bit emotional to read, particularly when reading about the murders of Lupita, the family’s laundry woman and Francisco both committed by Espiricuetta .

What also made this book more interesting is that at the end of the page, the author has said that this story was based on true events though the characters in the story are fictional. The author has done tremendous research on exploring the Mexican history, particularly on Mexican Revolution and Spanish flu that conquered in Linares.

This is one of the phenomenal books I have read. I recommend this book to anyone who still haven’t read it. Worth five stars!

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