The Bee and the Orange Tree
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 keenly-awaited 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
‘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!’ The Readings Monthly
‘Melissa Ashley has written a beautiful and deeply absorbing portrait of time’ Better Homes and Gardens
About the Author
Melissa Ashley is a writer, poet, birder and academic who tutors in poetry and creative writing at the University of Queensland. She has published a collection of poems, The Hospital for Dolls, short stories, essays and articles. What started out as research for a PhD dissertation on Elizabeth Gould became a labour of love and her first novel, The Birdman’s Wife, which has been printed in three formats and sold more than 30,000 copies since release. Melissa’s second novel, The Bee and the Orange Tree, will be published in November 2019 with Affirm Press.