Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.
As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.
Wow! What a poignant and very moving read.
This is the story of Nuri, a beekeeper from Aleppo and his wife Afra, an artist. The books opens with Nuri and his cousin Mustafa managing their apiaries in Aleppo Syria. Each family close to one another and enjoying the success of their hard work.
The story however soon moves on to the time of war. The two beekeepers starting to see the effects discuss leaving. Mustafa sends his family ahead of him to the UK but the others remain at first to take care of the bees but also thinking it may not be as urgent as thought. Afra is also hesitant to leave, later as the story unfolds this becomes more obvious. as we read of the heartbreaking details of the things the couple witness. However, eventually they see they must go, deciding to try and make the journey to England to join Mustafa who has already gone to join his family.
This is a very moving and beautifully told story of the physically and mentally challenging, dangerous journey the couple make. Written with such simplicity of feeling that really pulls at the heart. A tale of love, fear, loss and pain.
A real eyeopener to the refugee crisis.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo has been chosen as a BBCRadio 2 book club choice. Published on May 2nd by Zaffre. Thank you to the publisher for my limited edition advance reading copy.