When I read The Secret Life of Bees, I did not know that its author, Sue Monk Kidd, was someone better known for nonfiction and that this was her first attempt at fiction. I found that out later. This is one of her nonfiction works, in collaboration with her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor.
This is a memoir of the mother-daughter pair's travels spanning Greece, France and Turkey. Sue, at that point, was trying to conceive her first novel (The Secret Life of Bees) and also going through a number of other changes in her life, including menopause. Ann was trying to figure out what to do with her life, trying to sort out her passion for Greek history and for writing.
This is Ann's first book, but Sue was a well-known writer with a number of bestsellers to her credit at the time of writing this. Yet she was unclear and unsure about writing fiction for the first time. Ann had someone like Sue for a mother, who would obviously know a lot about writing and would know lots of people in the publishing industry, but was still unsure of whether or not she could write.
The narrative shows a very human, very delicate side of both the authors. It gives you an insight into how even well known, accomplished people can be less than completely confident about things rather closely related to their area of specialization. It makes you feel that you are not alone in being uncertain about whether or not you can accomplish everything you want to.
The mother-daughter relationship is very beautifully described in the book as well. Sue doesn't want to push Ann into being a writer, even though she believes that her daughter does have the talent. She wants Ann to discover, on her own, her talent and her willingness to write. Ann, on the other hand, doesn't want to be her mother's shadow, she wants to be her own person and she wants to be different from her mother.
It's a great book for mothers and daughters all over the world.