Project Description


Buy the book
31 March 2020
RRP: $29.99
ISBN: 9781925972672
Paperback,  384 pages
234 x 153 mm
Historical Fiction

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Grace Breen
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The Bee and the Orange Tree | Reformat

by Melissa Ashley

It’s 1699, and the salons of Paris are bursting with the creative energy of fierce, independent-minded women. But outside those doors, the patriarchal forces of Louis XIV and the Catholic Church are moving to curb their freedoms. In this battle for equality, Baroness Marie Catherine D’Aulnoy invents a powerful weapon: ‘fairy tales’.

When Marie Catherine’s daughter, Angelina, arrives in Paris for the first time, she is swept up in the glamour and sensuality of the city, where a woman may live outside the confines of the church or marriage. But this is a fragile freedom, as she discovers when Marie Catherine’s close friend Nicola Tiquet is arrested, accused of conspiring to murder her abusive husband. In the race to rescue Nicola, illusions will be shattered and dark secrets revealed as all three women learn how far they will go to preserve their liberty in a society determined to control them.

This second book from Melissa Ashley, author of The Birdman’s Wife, restores another remarkable, little-known woman to her rightful place in history, revealing the dissent hidden beneath the whimsical surfaces of Marie Catherine’s fairy tales. The Bee and the Orange Tree is a beautifully lyrical and deeply absorbing portrait of a time, a place, and the subversive power of the imagination.

PRAISE for The Bee and the Orange Tree

‘A thought-provoking reflection on the fallout when a person’s agency is taken away … Ashley writes astutely of the ramifications of social history often hidden or left unwritten.’ The Australian

‘A novel worth absorbing’ The Big Issue

‘[An] intriguing and captivating novel.’ Brisbane Times

‘If you are after escapism, this is the book for you. I loved spending time in 17th century Paris. The food! The clothes! The salon gatherings!’ Readings Monthly

‘Melissa Ashley has written a beautiful and deeply absorbing portrait of time’ Better Homes and Gardens

‘[The Bee and the Orange Tree] continues the important trend of interrogating fairy tales, their motifs and many authors, and the social and intellectual worlds that shaped them’ The Australian Book Review

About the Author

Melissa Ashley is a writer, poet, birder and academic who tutors in poetry and creative writing at the University of Queensland. Her first novel, The Birdman’s Wife, has been printed in three formats and sold more than 35,000 copies. She lives in Brisbane, Australia.