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Authors: Santa Montefiore

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The Beekeeper's Daughter

BOOK: The Beekeeper's Daughter
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Also by Santa Montefiore

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The House by the Sea The Affair

The Italian Matchmaker The French Gardener Sea of Lost Love

The Gypsy Madonna

Last Voyage of the Valentina The Swallow and the Hummingbird The Forget-Me-Not Sonata The Butterfly Box

Meet Me Under the Ombu Tree

First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2014
A CBS COMPANY

Copyright © Santa Montefiore, 2014

This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
® and © 1997 Simon & Schuster Inc. All rights reserved.

The right of Santa Montefiore to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.

Simon & Schuster UK Ltd
1st Floor
222 Gray’s Inn Road
London WC1X 8HB

www.simonandschuster.co.uk

Simon & Schuster Australia, Sydney
Simon & Schuster India, New Delhi

A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

HB ISBN: 978-1-47110-099-4
TPB ISBN: 978-1-47110-100-7
EBOOK ISBN: 978-1-47110-102-1

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Typeset by Hewer Text UK Ltd, Edinburgh
Printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon CR0 4YY

Dedicated to:

My darling Uncle Jeremy

One of life’s great characters,

with love and gratitude

The Bee-Boy’s Song

Bees! Bees! Hark to your bees!
‘Hide from your neighbours as much as you please,
But all that has happened, to us you must tell,
Or else we will give you no honey to sell!’
A maiden in her glory,
Upon her wedding-day,
Must tell her Bees the story,
Or else they’ll fly away.
Fly away – die away –
Dwindle down and leave you!
But if you don’t deceive your Bees,
Your Bees will not deceive you.
Marriage, birth or buryin’,
News across the seas,
All you’re sad or merry in,
You must tell the Bees.
Tell ’em coming in an’ out,
Where the Fanners fan,
’Cause the Bees are just about
As curious as a man!
Don’t you wait where the trees are,
When the lightnings play,
Nor don’t you hate where Bees are,
Or else they’ll pine away.
Pine away – dwine away –
Anything to leave you!
But if you never grieve your Bees,
Your Bees’ll never grieve you.
Rudyard Kipling

Contents

PART ONE

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

PART TWO

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

PART THREE

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

PART ONE

Chapter 1

Tekanasset Island, Massachusetts, 1973

Of all the weathered grey-shingled buildings on Tekanasset Island, Crab Cove golf club is one of the prettiest. Built in the late nineteenth century by a couple of friends from Boston who shared the sentiment that an island without a golf course is an island deficient in the only thing that truly matters, it dominates the western coastline with an uninterrupted view of the ocean. To the right, a candy-cane red-and-white lighthouse stands on a grassy hill, used more for birdwatchers nowadays than sailors lost at sea; and to the left, yellow beaches and grassy sand dunes undulate like waves, carrying on their crests thick clusters of wild rose. A softer variety of climbing rose adorns the walls of the clubhouse, and dusty pink hydrangeas are planted in a border that runs all the way around the periphery, blossoming into a profusion of fat, flowery balls. The effect is so charming that it is impossible not to be touched by it. And rising above it all, on the grey slate roof, the American flag flutters in the salty wind that sweeps in off the sea.

Reachable only by small plane or boat, the island of Tekanasset is cut off from the rest of the country, so that while the Industrial Revolution changed the face of America, it missed Tekanasset altogether, leaving the quaint, Quaker-inspired buildings and cobbled streets as they had always been, and allowing the island to settle into a sleepy, wistful rhythm where old-fashioned values blended harmoniously with the traditional architecture.

There are no unsightly road signs or traffic lights on Tekanasset, and the shops that thrive in the town are charming boutiques selling linen, gifts, pretty toiletries and locally crafted lightship baskets and scrimshaw. It is a nostalgic, romantic place, but not unsophisticated. Famous writers, actors and musicians from all over America escape the frenetic, polluted cities to breathe the fresh sea air and find inspiration in the beauty of the landscape, while wealthy businessmen leave the financial centres of the world to summer there with their families.

Crab Cove golf club is still the heart of the island, as it was always intended to be, but now it is no longer the hub of gossip that it was in the Sixties and Seventies, when society struggled to keep up with the changing times, and the old ways clashed with the new like waves against rock. Nowadays the young people who had fought so hard for change are old and less judgemental than their parents were, and conversation around the tables at teatime is more benign. But on this particular evening in July 1973, an incident which would not even merit comment today had whipped the ladies of Crab Cove golf club into a fever of excitement. They had barely glanced at their bridge cards before the subject which had been teetering on the end of their tongues toppled off into an outburst of indignation.

‘Well, my dear, I think it’s immoral and I’m ashamed on her behalf,’ said Evelyn Durlacher in her low Boston drawl, pursing her scarlet lips in disapproval. Evelyn was the weather-vane of polite society. Everything in her environs reflected her conservative values and high moral standards. From her immaculate cashmere twinsets and auburn coiffure to her beautifully decorated home and well-mannered children, nothing escaped her attention. And with the same scrupulous application, and a habitual lack of generosity, she passed judgement on those around her. ‘In our day, if you wanted to be alone with a man you had to lose your chaperone. Now the young are out of control and no one seems to be keeping an eye.’ She tapped her red talons on the table and glanced at her cards distractedly. ‘Terrible hand. Sorry, Belle, I fear I’m going to let you down.’

Belle Bartlett studied her cards, which were no better. She took a long drag on her cigarette and shook her blonde curls dolefully. ‘The youth of today,’ she lamented. ‘I wouldn’t want to be young now. It was better back in the Forties and Fifties when everyone knew where they stood. Now the lines are all blurred and we have no choice but to adapt. I think they are simply lost and we mustn’t judge them too harshly.’

‘Belle, you always try to see the good in everybody. Surely even
you
must concede that Trixie Valentine has let herself down,’ Evelyn insisted. ‘The fact is, she has not behaved like a lady. Ladies don’t go chasing boys around the country. They allow themselves to be chased. Really, it’s very distasteful.’

‘It’s not only distasteful, Evelyn, it’s imprudent,’ Sally Pearson agreed, giving her lustrous waves of long brown hair a self-conscious toss. ‘By throwing themselves at men they tarnish their reputations, which can never be restored.’ She waved her cigarette between two manicured fingers and smiled smugly, remembering the exemplary young woman
she
had been. ‘A man needs the chase and the woman needs to be a prize worth fighting for. Girls are far too easily won these days. In our day we saved ourselves for our wedding night.’ She giggled and gave a little snort. ‘And if we didn’t, we sure as hell didn’t let anyone know about it.’

‘Poor Grace, to have a daughter shame her in this way is very unfortunate,’ Belle added sympathetically. ‘Horrible to think we’re all picking at the pieces like vultures.’

‘Well, what do you expect, girls?’ interjected Blythe Westrup, patting her ebony up-do. ‘She’s British. They won the war but they lost their morals in the process. Goodness, the stories that came out of that time are shocking. Girls lost their heads . . .’

‘And everything else,’ Evelyn added dryly, arching an eyebrow.

‘Oh, Evelyn!’ Sally gasped and placed her cigarette holder between her lips to disguise her smile. She didn’t want her friends to see her taking pleasure in the scandal.

‘But do we really know she ran off with him?’ Belle asked. ‘I mean, it might just be malicious gossip. Trixie’s a character but she’s not bad. Everyone’s much too quick to criticize her. If she wasn’t so beautiful no one would even notice her.’

Evelyn glared at her fiercely, the rivalry in her eyes suddenly exposed. ‘My dear, I heard it all from Lucy this morning,’ she said firmly. ‘Believe me, my daughter knows what she’s talking about. She saw them all coming off a private boat at dawn, looking the worse for wear and very shifty. The boy is English, too, and he’s . . .’ She paused and drew her lips into a line so thin they almost disappeared. ‘He’s in a rock ’n’ roll band.’ She articulated the words with disdain as if they gave off a stench.

Belle laughed. ‘Evelyn, rock ’n’ roll is over. I believe he’s more Bob Dylan than Elvis Presley.’

‘Oh, so you know, do you?’ Evelyn asked, put out. ‘Why didn’t you say?’

‘The whole town is talking about them, Evelyn. They’re handsome young British boys, and polite, too, I believe.’ She smiled at the sour look on Evelyn’s face. ‘They’re spending the summer here at Joe Hornby’s place.’

BOOK: The Beekeeper's Daughter
4.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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