Chris Cleave’s Little Bee beats Incendiary




I’ve just completed Chris Cleave’s book Incendiary.   I read this one because I had loved his book, Little Bee so much.

Little Bee was an amazing combination of  the unexpected, the unlikely, the really insightful and funny, and then there are a couple of just horrific scenes which never leave your mind after you finish.  I would say that I (pretty much) loved Little Bee.  And Incendiary was almost as satisfying.

Incendiary was, like LB ,  insightful, surprising, very thoughtful and memorable.  I most appreciate Cleave’s ability to describe the attachments we have for one another, and how the pain of loss is  physical, emotional, spiritual, and often permanent.

6a00d83452008269e201156f2f1bf8970c-320wiBut in both books it  bugs me continually that Cleave is writing the thoughts of a woman from his very masculine perspective.  And he doesn’t quite understand how women think or where they find comfort.  He’s writing in both books about women who are trying to recover themselves after unimaginable trauma, and he gets some of it right.  But he wants to sooth their heartache in a very masculine way.  Women don’t automatically solve their emotional issues with sex, as Cleave seems to think.  Women may attempt to  solve our problems with men, but the goal and the point at which we find satisfaction is different.   Still, both books are  worth reading as they are well structured, with compelling story lines and extraordinarily memorable characters.

Incendiary is a good beach read.    Little Bee is fine for vacation reading, but I would not read it anywhere near a beach, at least not the end of the book.


I think that Little Bee ,  and the book club discussion it launched, have shoved me off in the direction of reading about Africa.  So, the next three books are all about Africa.    First, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s  In the House of the Interpreter,  which is the autobiography of a Kenyan’s experience of the Mau Mau uprising and its aftermath.   Then, Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid:  Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way for Africa.  And with a title like that, I don’t need to summarize.

I am also reading Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which was suggested as a good choice by a gentleman who grew up mostly in Nigeria, his father having been s a British colonial judge in Nigeria in the 40’s.    His plug  for  this book was that it gave an accurate view to life in Nigeria as he knew it.   I’m thankful for such a glowing recommendation.


3 thoughts on “Chris Cleave’s Little Bee beats Incendiary

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