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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Queen Bee

1. Holly McNee Jensen is a beekeeper/wannabe grade school teacher on Sullivan’s Island. She tends her bees with such care, as if they’re her children: “Everyone knows honey bees are good for the environment, but few people know why or how their hives are organized. There’s a division of labor for every stage of a honey bee’s life.” What is it about bees and their ways that is so appealing to Holly?

2. In the Prologue, our narrator tells us: “Maybe I want to tell you this story as a kind of cautionary tale. At the end of the day, you must live with who you’ve allowed yourself to become.” How do you think this relates to the characters in the novel?

3. To what (or whom) does the title refer? Who is the “Queen Bee” in your life?

4. After years of being almost agoraphobic, why does Holly’s mother suddenly perk up after Leslie’s arrival?

5. What is at the heart of Charlie and Leslie’s marital strife? Do they both try their best to make it work?

6. Leslie calls Holly a martyr: “I don’t know why she always acts like she’s being persecuted, but she does. She doesn’t want to stay home with Momma? Well, Momma ain’t home, so honey, go on, go over the causeway and go get that life you’re always mumbling about not having.” Do you agree with Leslie?

7. Early in the story, Holly states, “The only thing Leslie had ever cared about was getting out of here.” How would you describe Holly and Leslie’s relationship?

8. Is Archie a good father? Why does Holly have such a natural, maternal way with Tyler and Hunter?

9. What did you think of Leslie’s plan to seduce Archie away from Sharon? Were you surprised they ended up together in the end?

10. In your opinion, did Archie really love Sharon, or was he just lonely and needed a wife? Did he have genuine feelings for Holly?

11. Holly reflects, “Ted made me see Archie in a new light: Archie is a taker. He would take and take and take and then go off and marry somebody like Sharon. Ted, the guy I went out with, is a giver.” Who are the other “takers” in the novel? Who are the “givers”? Which character started out as one and then became the other?

12. Were you surprised that Suzanne (aka Buster) and Momma got together? Which character in QUEEN BEE do you think changed the most?

13. After Charlie’s admission and meeting Suzanne, Holly states, “If I haven’t learned anything else this whole year, I learned that love comes in every color, shape, and size.” Do you think the Lowcountry is ready for colorful characters like Char and Suzanne?

14. Have you ever been to Sullivan’s Island or the Lowcountry in South Carolina? If not, has reading QUEEN BEE made you curious about this beautiful part of the country?

Queen Bee
by Dorothea Benton Frank

  • Publication Date: April 28, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0062861239
  • ISBN-13: 9780062861238