Readers and book groups have been encouraged to take part in the Big Town Read by picking up this year’s choice, Laline Paull’s novel The Bees.

Now in its fifth year, the Big Town Read aims to create a town wide discussion on reading and literature by focussing on a special novel. This year the buzz in Marlborough has been over The Bees and its divisive fantasy plot.

The story unfolds around worker bee Flora and her endurance of a totalitarian regime inside a bee hive. The thriller has already caused ripples by tackling thought provoking themes ahead of the author’s visit to Marlborough LitFest in October.

Free copies were made available and numerous issues of the book are available to borrow from Marlborough library in the build up to the Q and A with Laline Paull.

Natasha Lichter, who attends Manningfords Book Club, said her group is looking forward to meeting the author and discovering her inspiraiton behind the novel.

She said: "The fantastic thing about being part of a book club or reading group or a book group, is that it gets you to pick up a book that you might not normally consider.  Then, we you meet with everyone else and hear all the different opinions on the book, whether you liked the book or not, it's great to discuss it, and you might even change your mind about it.

"With The Bees - we all agreed the idea for the book was original, the importance of bees in our world has to be shouted about again and again. I think this book will create a lot of discussion."

Genevieve Clarke, who has been involved with the charity behind the initiative The Reading Agency for five years, said: “The Bees is a very good choice of book because it tends to cause strong views and quite alot of debates so I think it is an ideal novel to talk about with the author there.

"I will most be looking forward to hearing the views and responses that reading groups and people have had to the novel.

“It is also great for people interested in bee keeping as it is set within a hive and is all about how the author has captured the way in which bees behave. A friend of mine said they will never look at a bee in the same way now.”

Encouraging those who have not yet read the story to pick up a book, Kay Newman from the LitFest added: “The Big Town Read is something special for the town, and I do hope that as many people as possible will take the challenge and read the book over the summer and come and meet Laline in October.”

The process of finding the annual Big Town Read book began earlier this year within libraries and book groups as readers were encouraged to suggest stories. Best-selling title The Bees was selected from the choices and the LitFest was able to secure a visit from author Laline Paull on 1 October.

As part of the same festival, journalist and novelist Frank Gardner has become the first sell out event of the LitFest as he discusses his travel experiences in the Middle East.

Other big names appearing at the literature festival include Will self, David Mitchell and Nikesh Shukla. Tickets can be purchased from: