Secret Life of Bees Book vs. Movie Comparison

I have read some really good posts from various bloggers recently comparing a book to the screen adaptation. Now,  I typically don’t like the movie version after I have read the book because I dislike the way the movie usually departs from the novel, but I enjoyed reading these different posts comparing the two forms.  After a nice chat with Eboni about this very topic, I have decided to step out and give the “book to movie comparison post” a whirl!

There were quite a few changes made as this novel was adapted for the screen. The most glaring was that the the black Mary Madonna’s role was not as central as it was in the book.  The sisters still kept her statue in the living room and prayed to her, but they removed  “Mary Day” and everything associated with it, like making the honey cakes and all the festivities surrounding that day. They even removed the most noteworthy event of “Mary Day” and definitely one of the most memorable parts of the novel, ‘anointing Mary with honey’. I found that I really missed this part in the movie because this scene illustrated many things, community and unity being chief among them.

I watched this movie with my husband and I must say, I was surprised that he watched it with me. I thought he would find something else, anything else, to do rather than watch this movie. To my surprise, not only did he watch the movie with me, but he enjoyed it too! However, he was glad when I told him that they removed most of the “Mary worship” scenes, otherwise it might have been too much of the feminine divine for him.

The first change I noticed was at the beginning of the movie when Lily tells T. Ray that she would like a silver charm bracelet for her birthday, but that she would settle for information about her mother instead. This scene introduces the main theme of the movie: Lily’s desire and longing to know more about her mother and I think the movie did an excellent job of keeping to this theme throughout the movie.

Another difference is that the sweet and budding romance between Lily and Zack that was illustrated so beautifully in the novel didn’t translate to the screen adaptation very well. In the movie, it seemed like they were barely more than friends, but I think the reason for this is that the movie had a different focus: Lily’s quest to know more about her mother.

Also, in the movie, Lily and Zack went to a movie together, but it didn’t happen in the book. However, I think this scene served as a reminder that all of this was happening at the height of desegregation.

There was one scene in the movie that wasn’t in the book which I enjoyed and that was the scene where May was doing Lily’s hair. May shares how she made a 7-Up cake for a boy when she was fifteen years old which resulted in a wealth of kisses and Lily opens up and reveals to May that her father is an unfeeling man whom Lily wishes was more like May. This was a sweet and tender scene.

There were several other changes, but the final difference worth mentioning is at the end when T. Ray starts to drive off in his truck. Lily runs after him with a burning question she needs answered-but it was not the same question she asked in the novel! It worked for the screen adaptation though because it nicely tied up Lily’s story of her search for information about her mother.

The pink house, the life lessons through bee keeping, and August and her sisters were all the same. The acting by everyone was great and Alicia Keyes really was the perfect June Boatwright!

All in all, I think the movie did a great job of capturing the story of a young girl longing and searching to fill the hole left in her heart by her mother’s absence.

I had a lot of fun writing this review. It actually helped me to see why they make the changes they do when they are adapting a novel for the screen. There just isn’t enough time to include everything, so they include what they can and what makes the story flow.

My final thoughts are that both the book and the movie were great and if you haven’t read the book or watched the movie yet, you definitely should, you will be in for a real treat!

Have you read the book or watched the movie? What did you think of them? Tell me in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “Secret Life of Bees Book vs. Movie Comparison

  1. Glad you decided to write this! The entire cast was so great! There were a lot of differences, but the movie was so great that it didn’t take anything away from the book’s story which was great. Hope you decide to do more of these :-)!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much! I had a lot of fun writing this :). The book and the movie were both amazing; I loved them both and now I want to read more from Sue Monk Kidd. Thanks for your encouragement 🙂 !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I like a book, I am always to hesitant to see the movie. All the images from the words I create in my head and am often disappointed by someone else’s interpretation! And then, as you describe, there are always parts that are left out or changed. For those reasons, I never saw the film of this book. I loved it and gave copies to several friends and family members 🙂 From what you state, I am not sure I would like those parts left out! But I think you brave for seeing it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks! I’m typically the same way, but I wanted to explore the differences and similarities in a post. I’m glad I did because I was better able to understand why they make those changes and why it’s an adaptation… and I had fun in the process :). The movie does make quite a few changes from the novel, but I thought both were very good!
    Also, I recently had a chance to let someone at work borrow this book… And she loved it! I think it is definitely a book to share with others :).


  5. I read the book a long time ago and loved it. But I also loved the movie. What I appreciate about your review is your encouragement to do both. I have to say I equally enjoyed each one. Great review.


  6. Thanks, I watched the movie and wanted to know if I might like the book too. Your comparison makes ne more interested to read the book now, to read more about the Mary spirituality.


  7. Pingback: Worldwide Wednesday #4: South Carolina – Not-So-Modern Girl

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