The Beekeeper's Ball, like a luscious slice of bee sting cake or a glass of good pinot noir, needs to be savored.
I learned this as I tried to rush through it in order to finish this review in what I thought was a timely fashion. In fact, I think I'll be reading it all over again because of such rushing in the beginning. And because it was just that good.
Isabel Johannson was done with love. She'd allowed herself to be swept away once and it had almost ruined her. No, she didn't need a man. She was perfectly fulfilled with the life she had: living amongst the apple trees and rolling hills of Bella Vista, planning her sister's wedding and getting to know the grandmother she'd never known she had, and on the verge of making her dreams come true by opening a cooking school where she could share her true passion with others.
Enter Cormack O'Neill, the journalist hired to write Isabel's grandfather's biography. He's not looking for love either, or anything that will tie him to one spot for very long. He'd been married once, and the experience was not one he wanted to repeat. But Bella Vista has a charm he can't seem to pull away from and he's not sure how much of it is the beauty and magic of the place and how much is the beauty and magic of Magnus' granddaughter.
The Beekeeper's Ball is a story of love's power to make our lives shine, even when we thought we had everything we needed. The relationships within its pages teach us that family isn't only about blood but about the love and connection between people.
Isabel's story is one that I can relate to in many ways. She learns, throughout the course of the book, that there is still room in her life for a different kind of joy than she'd ever experienced. When I met my husband, I made it clear to him that I didn't need him. I wanted him in my life because I enjoyed his company, but I needed no one to make me happy. I could handle it on my own, thank you very much. It wasn't until we fell in love that I realized he'd become inexplicably tied to my idea of what happiness truly was.
Isabel, likewise, learns that even though her life seemed to be in perfect order, there was still room for more joy. And when that joy was suddenly taken from her, the things she thought were all she needed suddenly seemed lacking.
I highly recommend the Bella Vista series, The Apple Orchard and The Beekeeper's Ball to anyone who needs a reminder that happy endings do exist. And to anyone who just likes good books. These ones were awesome!
A few of my favorite quotes from The Beekeeper's Ball:
"I know that in spite of my trials, I've been blessed in ways I cannot begin to count. I discovered that life does not always give us what we think we want. Life tends to give us what we need." -Magnus Johannsen
"The whole world was there for her, just waiting for her to begin." -The last words of the book, as Isabel realizes that her life is located in Bella Vista, but its up to her to fill it.
A little note regarding Susan Wiggs:
I've been asked many times who my favorite author is, and frankly, it's impossible to answer. Names float to the forefront of my head including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jane Austen, Gregory McGuire and Alan Bradley. I am so in love with books that my top ten list changes almost every time I read a new one.
But safely nestled in at least my top three lives Susan Wiggs. She writes the kind of books I can read over and over again when the world gets too scary or sad and I need a healthy dose of happy endings. Susan understands the human heart, what makes it tick, what can shatter it to pieces and what it takes to put it back together.
If that sounds like your cup of tea, check out her Lakeshore Chronicles series and definitely read the Bella Vista books.
Do you have a favorite author whose books you read again and again? Do share!