Lucy Bee and Soline
This novel is the third in the Lucy Bee series, but is a complete story in its own right. Soline is a French student staying with Lucy Bee’s family on the Kapiti Coast. Lucy Bee’s classmates all seem to know what they’d like to do after high school in terms of study and career, but Lucy Bee feels adrift with no clear path ahead.
One day, Soline receives a phone call from home with devastating news: the family chateau may have to be sold amid rising debts. Soline is understandably upset as it has been in her family for generations. As Soline opens up more and more to Lucy Bee, they make comparisons between the importance of land and heritage in France and Māori land issues in Aotearoa. The girls read Patricia Grace’s novel about her battle with Waka Kotahi to keep family land.
Soline’s elderly grandmother suffers a heart attack, necessitating an urgent trip back to France. Lucy Bee accompanies Soline home and there, with the help of ghostly apparitions, discovers long-lost treasure and both girls find their passions and possible future careers.
Anne Ingram tells the story in alternating chapters from each girl’s perspective. This mostly works well and the supportive friendship between them is a delight; however I found sometimes reading about some events twice, a little unnecessary.
The front cover sums up the novel beautifully. A chateau with grape vines is juxtaposed with a marae, native NZ birds and plants. Although France and Aotearoa are poles apart geographically and culturally, the author shows commonality through the importance of land, heritage and taonga.
A lot of French conversation is used in the book, and though some is translated, a glossary of French phrases would be helpful.
The protagonists are both girls, 15 and 16 years of age, and I feel this narrows the readership a little. This book would probably appeal to ages 12 to 15.
Title: Lucy Bee & Soline
Author: Anne Ingram
Publisher: White Gull Press
Date of Publication: November 2022
Themes: heritage, family
Do you have any advisory warnings for this book? No
Would this book work as a read aloud? Not particularly
Is there a particular part of the country that it’s set in? Kapiti Coast
Reviewer: Nova Gibson, Massey Primary, Auckland
How are you recommending this book? Recommended
What’s the book’s opening sentence? ‘Soline’s phone hummed.’
You can buy this book here.