Rachel Linden’s The Enlightenment of Bees is my September Chirp audiobook club pick. This is a perfect summer escape that’s sure to cause a real buzz, and you can get the audiobook for only $2.99! You heard that right, $2.99! What a deal! Rachel answered a few questions about her book, and I also included discussion questions about the book and answered a few of them, too!
1. Tell us about The Enlightenment of Bees?
It’s the story of Mia, a Seattle baker, who has her entire life planned out, but when it all falls apart in a day she embarks on an around the world trip to find her new sweet spot in life!
2. When you wrote this book what was happening with your writing career and how has it evolved since?
The Enlightenment of Bees was my third published novel. After it released, I started writing book #4, The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie, which just came out this August (woohoo!). I was writing that story in the spring of 2020, then bam! The pandemic hit. Unexpectedly those hard months of lockdowns were a really rich creative space for me, and I ended up changing agents and publishing houses in 2021. I’m now with a wonderful new publishing home at Berkley Books. My stories continue to be about strong women facing big challenges, about food, travel, and second chances at love. They still have themes of hope, courage, and finding our purpose, but currently I’m doing a bit more with magical realism in my stories which is really fun!
3. Tell us about the main character and a summary of why you wrote her?
This book is really quite autobiographical. I had many similar experiences to Mia, including being broken up with on the cusp of getting engaged (so not fun), getting chased by a shark (really, it’s true!), and volunteering in a refugee camp in Hungary during the refugee crisis of 2015. I think Mia is relatable to me and so many readers because she really wants to be living a life of meaning and purpose. She wants to make a difference in the world, but she doesn’t think the thing she loves to do, baking, is big enough or important enough to make that difference. The story centers on Mia’s journey to find her sweet spot in life, that place where her passion meets the world’s great pain. And I hear from so many readers that this story has helped them get a bit closer to finding their sweet spot too!
4. Specifically for the audio listener, can you tell us about the narration of the book?
The story is narrated by Madison Lawrence who narrated one of my other novels as well. I love her voice – people have told me she reminds them of actress Emma Stone – and she really brings the story to life. It was tricky for her to narrate as there are a lot of foreign places and words. I don’t make it easy on my narrators, but she nailed it!
5. What is your favorite scene in the book?
The wedding scene near the end! I won’t spoil anything by saying who’s wedding it is, but I love how things start to all come together in that scene! Plus who doesn’t love a good garden wedding? 😉
Discussion Questions From The Enlightenment of Bees
While I know Rachel personally, reading this book brought to life a different lens of the person she is. Rachel and her husband are always filling their home with people to help and support, they are true humanitarians who have traveled the world to help others. While reading this book I picked up glimpses of who Rachel is in the heart of Mia.
Here are some discussion questions for the book. I went ahead and answered a few! I hope you will listen to the book, which you can purchase here for only $2.99 on Chirp, and reflect on these questions with me!
- “Do small things with great love,” was a favorite motto of Mother Teresa. How do the characters demonstrate this motto in the story? How does Mia learn to live it out?
- What role do bees and dreams about bees play in the story? What do you think the bees represent for Mia?
- Do you think Mia’s motivations to go on the Humanitas Foundation trip are selfish or altruistic? How so?
- Mia goes on the trip to find her “alternate life.” Does she succeed or fail? How does her view of her “alternate life” change by the end of the story?
- How do Kai and Ethan differ in their life goals and their relationship with Mia? How do her interactions with each of them influence her choices in life?
- What are three pivotal interactions that Mia has in the story that change the course of her life?
- Which character in the story do you identify with the most and why?
- What does Mia learn through her relationships with the strong women around her (Shreya, Delphine, Aunt Frannie, Nana Alice, etc.)? What strong women have influenced your life and how?