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The Bee Sting cover art

The Bee Sting

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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Incredible

Incredible. I was enthralled and immersed in every detail of each character’s journey from the start to the crescendo of the finale

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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A great book, shame about the ending

26 hours is a long time to listen to a book to get to the end and discover the story just stopped. I understand that some authors like to leave you guessing but it was like there were too many unanswered questions. I also struggled for a few chapters until I got to PJs chapter and then my interest grew.?
What I did like, I loved, like the characters & how well they were described, the narrators...fab!, the way the author described situations and what the characters were thinking in their heads. So much I loved but I’m just disappointed the ending ended the way it did.

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Gripping

Could not stop listening 25 hours was still not enough excellent narration and gripping story.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

mehh with trigger warning

I'm only 6h into this book. It's dragging, slow story. I absolutely hate that there are so many references to Nazis and Hitler, in quite a level of detail. a trigger warning would have been great. Using the element of Nazis has no contribution to the book at all and is just simply ignorant and insensitive writing. I keep on reading praying that finally the Nazi stuff is over but it keeps coming dropping in casually.

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Enthralling

Didn’t want it to end, truthful, tragic and captivating characters. Loved the performance on this audiobook version.

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Poetic and compelling

Excellent narrators, delivering a wonderful performance of this powerful and surprising story. I loved it! Interesting and well-rounded characters, in a tale that twists and turns all the way through.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Depressing

I didn’t enjoy this very depressing book. There was no joy in it at all. Disappointing.

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Humanity and injustice

I absolutely loved this book though I’d prefer a tidier ending! There will be divided opinions there I’m sure. Brilliantly read by all characters, beautifully written by Paul Murray. I was torn between intense dislike for most of the characters while feeling simultaneously sympathetic and understanding of why they were the way they were. God the brutality and toxicity was harrowing but completely believable. In my top 5 for the last few years.

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Wow! What an epic story.

Such fabulous depictions of what it must feel like to go through each crisis from the perspectives of each family member.

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I hated the ending.

Talk about leaving your audience hanging! This would have to be the most disappointing ending to any book I have read or listened to. I feel like I have been robbed. Hanging in there for 17 hours of convoluted confusion to be insulted like this.

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