Canadian

The Honey Farm

A debut novel by Harriet Alida Lye.

Harriet Alida Lye

The drought has discontented the bees. Soil dries into sand; honeycomb stiffens into wax. But Cynthia knows how to breathe life back into her farm: offer it as an artists' colony with free room, board and "life experience" in exchange for backbreaking labour. Silvia, a wide-eyed graduate and would-be poet, and Ibrahim, a painter distracted by constant inspiration, are drawn to Cynthia's offer, and soon, to each other.

But something lies beneath the surface. The Edenic farm is plagued by events that strike Silvia as ominous: taps run red, scalps itch with lice, frogs swarm the pond. One by one, the other residents leave. As summer tenses into autumn, Cynthia's shadowed past is revealed and Silvia becomes increasingly paralyzed by doubt. (From Vagrant Press)

From the book

The honey farm was in a valley in the northeastern part of the province, not far from the old river mouth. Islanded between Timmins on the Ontario side, La Sarre on the Quebec side, and the Abitibi Indian Reserve to the northwest, the farm was in the middle of a logistical no-man's land. The neareset town was Smooth Rock Falls (population: 1,316 at last count).

Though the region was not particularly known for its agriculture, the farm had always done well. However, that spring there had been a terrible drought, the worst in recorded history. Everyone suffered. The flowers were desiccated. The bees were restless.

Cynthia was the proprietor of the honey farm — she'd purchased the land about a dozen years ago. She had worked it, and worked hard, to make the cold, pebble-dashed plot yield more than anyone would have expected. She kept her dark hair cropped sensibly short, making her neck look even longer. Meeting her for the first time, you might be reminded of a tidy, highly polished operating theatre.


From The Honey Farm by Harriet Alida Lye © 2018. Published by Vagrant Press.