Group Feedback: HMP Ford

Many of our groups are finding ways to run virtually during lockdown, but we are looking forward to when groups can meet in person again and enjoy the sense of connection and communication. This Saturday, on 20th June, we are celebrating National Reading Group Day with The Reading Agency. They have chosen The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri as their online reading group Book. Back in December, our reading group at HMP Ford selected this same book to read and discuss…

Here are some highlights:


  • This was a softly written book – I enjoyed the style
  • This was an allegorical tale showing how a simple life can become a complicated one in the blink of an eye 
  • The simplicity of the writing style did not detract at all from the power of the story 
  • The inclusion of mundane incidents e.g. “how can we eat Nutella without a knife” made this feel real 
  • Nothing was described over graphically – just simply stated and this made it all the more powerful 

I have read 10 books now in this reading group and this one has had the greatest impact on me.


  • When the young boy asked “Are we going to drown?” I thought how would I answer my own son? 
  • Unfortunately the perilous crossing of seas by refugees is now an everyday event that barely makes the news 
  • We are all aware of the situation but reading about it in a novel made it far more emotive – there are still people locked in places because they have not the means to move on 


  • In the earlier stages of the book Nuri is the stronger character of the two. They did not mend at the same time. Afra sees her husband struggling and recovers herself. They have great difficulty in communicating with each other because they are both in different places. 
  • Beekeeping represented hope for the future. “Bees are a symbol of life and hope”. Bees are a constant (we hope!) 
  • Nuri is a mixture – emotionally weak but strong in action. He took charge in Athens, whilst Afra becomes stronger in England 
  • How does England come out of this? As a place that is more inclusive and multicultural 
  • At the end Afra says “You think it is me that cannot see” when she realises that Nuri has more problems than her. Afra is clinging on to a physical marble as Nuri is hanging on to his memories and she seems to cope better with the physical aid.
View all posts