Ask DJ Lyons Book Review: The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton Porter

A very inspiring and heart-warming book

Imagine if you were a World War I veteran. You had sustained a shrapnel wound in your chest that refused to heal. You were sent to a veteran's hospital in California to try to get better; however, soaking in the sulphur hot water springs only seemed to make you worse.

Then one day, you overheard the doctors and other officials discussing your case. You heard them say that since one year of treatment did not heal you, you were relatively a hopeless case. Therefore, they intended to free up your bed by sending you to a tuberculosis camp even though you did not have tuberculosis.

What would you do? Would you remain or would you make your escape?

James Lewis Macfarlane, Jamie for short, decided to run away. Of course, he was not capable of running. He could only place one foot in front of another in front of another in his attempt to get as far away from this hospital as he could before they dragged him back.

Thanks to some generous drivers, he managed to get far, far away before they discovered he was gone.

He eventually ended up near the house of the Bee Master. This fine gentleman was near death's door with heart issues. He had staggered out to his fence to see if there was anyone who could help him.

Jamie had been staggering toward this house in his own attempt to get help for himself as he was close to death himself. He had no food, no water, no money, and no family.

He managed to summon some inner resources to help the Bee Master inside. He got him the help he needed. Jamie was then asked to remain in this house, take care of the bees and house, until the Bee Master came home from the hospital someday.

That is how this book begin.

As you read, you will meet up with Margaret Cameron, the next door neighbor, who had been cooking meals for the Bee Master. She will continue doing the same for Jamie.

You will meet up with Little Scout, a delightful individual who was the Bee Master's litlte partner. This child, age 10, would teach Jamie how to care for the bees.

You will also meet up with the Storm Woman and a few other individuals.

This is a book I have read multiple times in the last forty years. I will continue to re-read it now and again as the years go on. I greatly enjoy most of the books written by Gene Stratton Porter. This one is one of my favorites.

The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton Porter

The Keeper of the Bees (Library of Indiana Classics)
The Keeper of the Bees (Library of Indiana Classics)

Set in the author's adopted home of California in the 1920s, this is Gene Stratton-Porter's last novel, a story filled with wisdom, a love of nature, and her own abiding optimism. In it a Master Bee Keeper, his bees, and the natural beauty of California restore a wounded World War I veteran to health.


Food Combining pp. 168-169

Gene Stratton Porter wrote this book in 1925. She was the one who introduced me to the whole idea of food combining.

Jamie decided that in order to live beyond 6 months, he was going to have to change his diet and a few other factors.

Magaret Cameron, who was cooking most of his meals, told Jamie about a diet used by her niece, Molly. This is how she describes it:

"I asked Molly something about it and she tells me that she broke down a little with her school work last year and she took a trip to Denver. There she heard about a doctor who cures everything that ails you with what you eat. The idea seems to be that there are certain food combinations that you can't safely mix. The point Molly brought out was that the great American breakfast, eggs and toast and bacon and coffee, is about a deadly combination. Molly said that doctor proved that the yeast of bread and the albumen of eggs and the fat of bacon and what caffeine you get in coffee would kill a guinea pig in short order. It seems that you may eat all the eggs you want cooked any conceivable way, but you must not take them in combination with the yeast of bread and the acids of meat. You may eat all the starch you please at one meal; but you must not take it in combination with the acids of meat or albumen. You must keep the bread and potatoes and starchy things confined to one meal. Then for dinner you may have any kind of meat you want; but you must not take it with vegetables that are starchy. You must cut off the bread, beans, potatoes, any starch. You must confine the desserts to fruits and jellos and leave out the pastry. It is simple; it is easy. Merely a slightly different arrangement in combinations of the same things you have been eating all your life. But Molly says it makes all the difference in the world. She's been trying it for a year and she says her flesh is so hard and her muscles work so fine, and her brain functions better and she doesn't know she hasĀ a stomach. She thinks it's wonderful. ..."

I had read this passage in this book for many years and always found myself a bit curious to learn more about food combining. Finally, in January of 2011, I turned to Google to look it up. That is where I first discovered the "Fit for Life" books written by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. I have been using some of their principles since January 22, 2011. I am already seeing good results.

So a fiction book has led me to a principle of health that might help me lose the weight I wish to lose and to never again face cancer. That is definitely my kind of book!

Here are some other books by Gene Stratton Porter

The Essential Gene Stratton-Porter Collection (10 books) [Illustrated]
The Essential Gene Stratton-Porter Collection (10 books) [Illustrated]

At the Foot of the Rainbow

A Daughter of the Land


A Girl Of The Limberlost

The Harvester

Her Father's Daughter


Michael O'Halloran

Moths of the Limberlost

The Song of the Cardinal

Gene Stratton-Porter: A Girl of the Limberlost
Gene Stratton-Porter: A Girl of the Limberlost

Of all the books written by Hoosier writers, Gene Stratton-Porter's "A Girl of the Limberlost" is unquestionably the most cherished: the timeless story of an impoverished young girl, Elnora Comstock, growing up on the edge of the Limberlost swamp. Elnora attends school against her mother's wishes, fighting every inch of the way for her dream of an education, and collects and sells moths and other rare biological specimens from the swamp to pay for her schooling, books, and bare necessities. At first a laughingstock of her fellow students, Elnora persists against unfair odds, and asserts her true self. Gene Stratton-Porter's "A Girl of the Limberlost" provides a wonderful discovery of identity, wonders of nature, friendship, family trust, love, and the process of growing up in the magical shadow of the Limberlost. Elnora's struggles can be related to by any girl today, and her triumph is purely her own. A lovely theme in the book allows each character to come to life as a caterpillar, spend a time in a cocoon, then emerge finally as a beautiful moth. Elnora's mother's transformation is particularly splendid. The ecological concerns of the novel convince the reader that our "modern" problems are mere variations on a theme. The fresh foray into a simpler, if not nobler, time-and the reverence for hard work, creativity, and strict moral standards--are refreshing. In the words of one reviewer, "Shelve Titanic, and read Gene Stratton-Porter's book instead."

The Harvester (Library of Indiana Classics)
The Harvester (Library of Indiana Classics)

Gene Stratton-Porter returns us to her beloved Midwestern woodlands with a hero modeled after Henry David Thoreau. He and his "wonderful, alluring" Ruth ultimately find idyllic bliss in the pure, unspoiled woods, but not before her mysterious past is revealed and resolved.

Laddie: A True Blue Story
Laddie: A True Blue Story

This charming story is told by "Little Sister" a young girl who loves to learn, but has no patience with schools. Her ideal classroom is nature itself. Join her as she learns about the world and her place in it.

Michael O'Halloran (1915)
Michael O'Halloran (1915)

Originally published in the early 1900s, this volume tells the story of the title character, a plucky orphan growing up in a Midwestern metropolis. O'Halloran's existence is dismal until he meets another orphaned child, and together they try to make a life for themselves. A little hokey, but stick with it.

Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Her Father's Daughter
Her Father's Daughter

HER FATHER'S DAUGHTER (1921) by Gene Stratton Porter is the story of Linda Strong, the titular heroine, a determined and opinionated young woman growing up in California in the 1920s.

What could have been a typically charming and heartfelt story of personal discovery, loves and relationships by the beloved naturalist author is unfortunately marred by the strongly pronounced racist and anti-immigrant mindset of the heroine and several other characters. It must be pointed out that the racial prejudice portrayed here is typical of its time and must be viewed in a socio-historical context. Nevertheless, it is something the modern reader will find offensive.

Despite the controversial nature of the material, the novel is an interesting, albeit disturbing study, both for students of the period and fans of the author.

The Magic Garden
The Magic Garden

A wealthy young girl spends her youth preparing for the return of a young man she has loved since childhood.

Gene Stratton-Porter: A Little Story of Her Life and Work
Gene Stratton-Porter: A Little Story of Her Life and Work

Her publishers have felt the pressure of this growing interest and it was at their request that she furnished the data for a biographical sketch that was to be written of her. But when this actually came to hand, the present compiler found that the author had told a story so much more interesting than anything he could write of her, that it became merely a question of how little need be added. The following pages are therefore adapted from what might be styled the personal record of Gene Stratton-Porter. This will account for the very intimate picture of family life in the Middle West for some years following the Civil War.

A Daughter of the Land
A Daughter of the Land

A Daughter of the Land is set in Gene Stratton Porter's Limberlost series. Kate Bates lives in a man's world. It her dream to own and run her own farm. To fulfill her dreams she must give up everything and start anew.


I personally own 8 of the 10 books mentioned above

I have been a great fan of the writings of Gene Stratton Porter ever since I was a teenager. I have collected most of her work.

My personal favorites, other than "Keeper of the Bees" are Freckles, Girl of the Limberlost, Michael O'Halloran, Magic Garden, and Her Father's Daughter. I also enjoyed Laddie and The Harvester. My least favorite was A Daughter of the Land. I have never read the biography of the author. Perhaps I will some day.

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Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

a well laid out and very interesting hub so thank you for sharing. I now can look forward to following you and reading much more of your work.

Take care,


Ask_DJ_Lyons profile image

Ask_DJ_Lyons 5 years ago from Mosheim, Tennessee Author

Thanks so much! I appreciate your comments so much!

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