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The Bee Sting cover art

The Bee Sting

Written by: Paul Murray
Narrated by: Heather O’Sullivan,Barry Fitzgerald,Beau Holland,Ciaran O'Brien,Lisa Caruccio Came
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Publisher's Summary

The Barnes family is in trouble. Dickie's car business is going under, but instead of doing anything about it, he's out in the woods preparing for the actual end of the world. Meanwhile his wife Imelda is selling off her jewellery on eBay and half-heartedly dodging the attentions of fast-talking local wrongun Big Mike. Their teenage daughter Cass, usually top of her class, seems determined to drink her way through the whole thing. And twelve year old PJ is spending more and more time on video game forums, where he's met a friendly boy named Ethan who never turns his camera on and wants PJ to run away from home.

Digging down through layers of family history, the roots of this crisis stretch deep into the past. Meanwhile in the present, the fault lines keep spreading, ghosts slipping in through the cracks, and every step brings the Barneses closer to a fatal precipice. When the moment of reckoning finally arrives, all four of them must decide how far they're willing to go to save the family, and whether - if the story's already been written - there's still time to give it a happy ending...

©2023 Paul Murray (P)2023 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

I experienced just about every possible human emotion while reading The Bee Sting, and at an intensity I have not felt with a work of fiction for a long time. Its ambition and scale are astonishing, and as a sheer technical feat of storytelling it is remarkable. Reading it, I was constantly reminded of what the novel as an artform is capable of, and what it is for. It might be a bold claim to make, of the author of Skippy Dies, that this new book is the best thing Paul Murray has ever done - but I'm making it anyway, because it's true (Mark O'Connell, author of 'To Be A Machine')

This novel is as generous, expansive, and glorious as a cathedral, as intimate as pillow-talk, and as funny and heartbreaking as nothing you've read before. Paul Murray may just be the most spellbinding storyteller writing today. A magisterial piece of work (Neel Mukherjee, author of 'The Lives of Others')

Paul Murray is my favourite young Irish novelist and The Bee Sting confirms all of his talents. Settle in for a hilarious whirlwind of a familial socioeconomic misadventure as only Murray would write it (Gary Shteyngart, author of 'Super Sad True Love Story')

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What listeners say about The Bee Sting

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

interpersonal relationships

the hung ending and the usual tropes which were introduced midway deterred me from giving this book the otherwise deserved 5 star.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A roller coaster!

Enjoyed listening to each person’s perspective through the journey. A story about how every decision has an effect on not just the person making the choice.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Weird Ending

Great story, beautiful writing with words that wake all kinds of emotions. Just the ending is bit weird and incomplete, hope there’s a second part which ties it up.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Everything goes to shit

It's like the author had a dark joke to tell, one that no one would laugh at. so he wrote a 1000 page back story for it. The story starts and everything goes to shit.

if you are looking for a family story, or a comfort story. you won't find it here.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Forced cliff hanger

There is actually no story. It’s mundane. Listened just because I bought it and it ended in an infuriating cliff hanger. Greedy writer, probably hoping for a second book. I am never going to buy the second book.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

This is not my kind of book.

it started of so well that I thought that this will be another "secret life of bees" kind of book. But it just drags on beyond the first couple of chapters.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Covers several complex topics

Although this book covers a lot of diverse, relevant topics .. and culminates in a really profound manner... it has a way of meandering into sub plots.. such that you lose interest and wonder what's going on.
I did however, stick through and finish it. Performances were great.. 👍 story not so much!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Edge.Of.My.Seat.

This only gets better as you keep going. So keep going. If you don't find yourself in those woods, if you don't find your heart starting to race as you listen on, I'll be very surprised. :)

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