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Cure for Death by Lightning
Gail Anderson-Dargatz
January 2002
From Publishers Weekly
The year is 1941. For the Weeks family on their frontier farm in Western Canada, life is brutally hard, with moments of joy few and far between. Fifteen-year-old Beth Weeks narrates this coming-of-age story, which is sprinkled with recipes, home remedies and useful homesteading advice (e.g., how to kill and clean a chicken: keep it calm, since "there's nothing as frustrating as trying to kill a panicked chicken"). Though the inventory of authentic period detail is evocative, make no mistake: this is no warmhearted tale of pioneer life. Forget square dances and barn raisings; think bestiality and incest. Beth's tortured, demanding father, mentally ill following a traumatic bear attack and the lingering effects of a head injury he received in WWI, goes on one rampage after another. Beth, meanwhile, does her best to...

Recipe for Bees
Gail Anderson-Dargatz
April 2001
Book Review
Augusta Olsen has seven cats, a son-in-law in the hospital "for tests," and a husband who never says what he is thinking. A Recipe for Bees looks back over her life story, from a childhood on a farm in rural Canada through various waves of premonition and loss. As a young girl she is infatuated with the handsome and mysterious Joe, but all she has left of him is a pendant: a bee frozen in amber. When her mother dies, she marries Karl, who loves her so much that his face reddens when he looks at her. He makes her feel safe and irritable. Only late in life when she rediscovers her mother's beekeeping equipment does Augusta find a true opening into the past, as she spends hours out among the swarms, observing how "a handful of bees felt for all the world like a handful of warm black currants."

A Recipe for Bees is most...

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