The time it took me to read this book still stings. For some reason it took me weeks to read this book. As I look back, I think it may be that the 400 plus pages tell a rather mundane family drama interwoven with magical realism. Of Bees and Mist tells the story of a woman raised by abusive parents who marries a weak man with a domineering abusive mother. The plot was real enough. But the magic wasn’t so magic, it was a substitute for negative emotions and not much else.
The story begins with Meridia as a little girl. The house she lives in is unbearably cold and creates distances between people through staircases that turn into the equivalent of escalators going the wrong way. Cold mists surround the house and accompany her father out of the house. The coldness is clearly the result of her parents hating each other. That hatred consumes her mother to the point that she neglects her daughter, and Meridia’s father extends his coldness to his daughter as well as his wife.
Meridia falls in love at the tender age of 16 with Daniel. Daniel’s mother manipulates her children and her husband in cruel and stupid ways. Her nasty emotions are represented by swarms of bees that appear again and again through the novel. Meridia and Daniel get married, have a child, and suffer a lot because of their families.
The setting of this story is a small village in some unknown country. Some details suggest Latin America, others suggests the Philippines, not sure that it matters. The time is uncertain. The presence of magazines and an American imperialist suggest late 19th or early 20th century. None of the magic includes technology.
I usually enjoy the magical realism genre, but this one didn’t do it for me.