Allison Wallace

Press Release


 Publicity Contact: Jennifer Huwer


Praise for Allison Wallace’s A KEEPER OF BEES

“Set against the back-drop of an absentee husband, A KEEPER OF BEES provides a view of a swarm’s rituals, until they eventually abscond their hive.  The parallel provides Wallace with fodder for a meditation on achieving happiness…Engaging.”

-- Seed Magazine

 “An absolute delight. Under Allison Wallace's gentle gaze, bees turn out to be a lot like humans. Like Annie Dillard, she has a playful eye for the world's ineffable magic, and the subtlety and compassion of her language raises natural history to the level of literature. This is a wonderful book.”

-- Mckay Jenkins, author of
The White Death: Tragedy and Heroism in an Avalanche Zone

 “In A KEEPER OF BEES [Wallace] has elegantly woven her knowledge of the practical workings of the hive with the place of bees in nature, agriculture, literature, history and, not least of all, her own life to create a beautifully profound book.”

-- Jane Brox, author of
Clearing Land: Legacies of the American Farm

 “Her voice is equable, wry, and sane, unobtrusively informed by reading, reflection, and the twists and turns of experience.  [Wallace] is informative on the subject of bees; and wise, in an engagingly offhand way, about the habits of human beings.”

-- Franklin Burroughs, author of
Billy Watson’s Croker Sack and The River Home

“An engaging collage of memoir and musings on the ‘ordinary miracles’ of the lives of bees and beekeeper. Her blend of biological and philosophical insights gives the reader a deeper appreciation of the many stories that intertwine in a single spoonful of honey.”

-- Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of
Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses

“To be honest, I hadn’t paid much attention to bees. But I couldn’t put this book down. How can a book about an insect be so deeply humane? From science and her own rueful reflections, Allison Wallace has woven a moving story about a life of beekeeping and the truths that honeybees tell about what it means to be fully human.”

-- Kathleen Dean Moore, author of
The Pine Island Paradox

“Allison Wallace offers us sweetness and light in abundance, but the sweetness is the sort that’s coupled with tartness, of mind and tongue, and the light is the kind that burns as well as illuminates.  Like the finest books about the sustaining mystery we call nature, this one entertains us while enlarging our sense of where we truly dwell.  It demonstrates that literature can be witty as well as wise.”

-- Scott Russell Sanders, author of
A Private History of Awe


Notes on Hive and Home

by Allison Wallace

In A KEEPER OF BEES: Notes on Hive and Home (Random House; On-Sale: July 11, 2006), Fulbright scholar and first-time author Allison Wallace approaches the popular topic of beekeeping from the perspectives of philosopher and scientist.  The result is a mixture of personal memoir and exploration of the natural world, with musings that illuminate both human and honeybee behavior.

Allison Wallace was a young graduate student living miles from campus with her husband when she encountered, close-up, her first beehive.  Fascinated rather than annoyed by the bees keeping house next to her garden, she began to study them and even built a hive of her own.  Life in the woods did not stay peaceful for long, and she and her husband eventually left these first bees to establish new hives and a new home for themselves in rural Maine.  When her marriage broke up some years later, she and her bees headed back South, this time to Arkansas.  Today Wallace is affectionately known to some of her neighbors as “the bee-lady.”

Wallace is a companionable writer as she reflects on all things honeybee, from their origin (one hundred million years ago) to how they function as a society of workers (all of the workers are female).   She tells us honey is one of only two naturally-occurring substances that serve their animal makers biologically as food, and only food (the other substance is milk).  She also tells us the many surprising ways honeybees play an integral role in human society as they have since our earliest history. 

Stories about Wallace's efforts to keep and know honeybees are weaved with musings on human need for companionship, intimacy, meaningful work, and a connection to place that all creatures do their best to establish. Honeybees serve as the inspiration for Allison Wallace's insights on a wide variety of themes such as desire, regret, spirituality, evolution, ambition and memory. Wallace explores the biology of honeybees as well as the vagaries of human existence.  Her conversational writing illuminates the many small and varied ways we are unavoidably connected to nature around us.

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