Tag Archives: daughters

Before we visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

BeforeWeVisitTheGoddess FC Title: Before we Visit the Goddess
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 978-1471146930
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 256
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I started reading Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s books in about 2001. I clearly remember being fascinated then by the writing and surprisingly still am. Every time there is a book by her, I devour it. I am somehow taken in by the writing that is so lucid and the interpersonal relationships that stand out so strong in all her books. Whether she is speaking of Draupadi in “The Palace of Illusions” or trying to deal with cousins and their lives in “Sister of my Heart”, she sure knows her craft and is the top notch mistress of it.

“Before we visit the Goddess” is her latest book and to be honest, I think it is way better than the others (that’s saying something) and very taut in its writing. It is a story of three generations of mothers and daughters – spanning right from West Bengal and leading to Texas – a sort of back and forth – not only between terrains but also emotions and lifestyles.

The book is about a family that is torn apart by love, ambition, pride and the need to belong. It starts with Sabitri, daughter of a poor banker in rural Bengal and the decisions she makes that will rock not only her world but also those of her daughter Bela’s (even though she manages to escape to America, falsely thinking that the past is well behind her) and her granddaughter Tara’s who will learn and unlearn love the hard way.

I think more than anything else it is the uniqueness (or not for some) of the plot that had me going. The voices are strong, fearful, uncertain and only human at the end of it all – as the story progresses and reaches an end which is quite unpredictable.
The writing as usual is succinct and not too long. At no point did I feel that I did not know the characters or wanted the book to be longer. It is just right. The pace of the book is languid – the way it should be – the descriptions rich and in full detail, making you wait as a reader about what’s going to happen next.

“Before we visit the Goddess” is an honest book revealing the emotions, the decisions and lives across time and generations of women – each trying to find their own existence and home. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am sure so will you. A must read.

Book Review: Ten Things I’ve Learnt about Love by Sarah Butler

Ten Things I've Learnt About Love by Sarah Butler Title: Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love
Author: Sarah Butler
Publisher: Picador
ISBN: 978-1447222491
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 292
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

It was the title’s unusual quality that drew me to it. I wanted to then read it and find out more. What was the book about? Why this title? I was guessing that it would be a love story for sure, however I did not for once think it was a love story of a father and his daughter. Of the relationship they share and what they don’t and how their love comes to be and what they learn from it over a period of time. That in brief was the essence of “Ten Things I’ve Learnt about Love”.

“Ten Things I’ve Learnt about Love” may seem the usual run of the mill dysfunctional family story; however let me tell you at the very outset, that it is not. The story is about belonging and wanting to really badly and yet staying away from it. Alice has just returned to London after travelling abroad and come home to her father who is living at the pity and criticism of her two older sisters. She has never felt close to him and now everything seems different and new. Daniel her father is the other central character who is living homeless, from one shelter to another, and desperately looking for someone all these years.

The story shifts between both their perspectives all along the book. The dual narrative style completely worked for me. What I loved was the way Sarah Butler at some point made their lives overlap and make sense of the entire book. The novel’s every chapter starts with a list of ten things, about various things of life and those were my best parts of the book. More so, the book seems to be a love letter to the city. London forms a major part of the book, almost a third character which is described beautifully. As a reader, all I wanted to do after reading the book was catch a plane and visit the places she mentions.

It is very difficult to believe that this is Sarah’s first book. It is detailed, vivid and almost magical in its scope. It is about regular people and beautiful lives that twist and turn and how somehow one manages to make sense of it all. The book is gradual, subtle and absolutely stunning. It will definitely stay with me for a very long time with its unusual format and the usual miracles of love and happiness.

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Book Review: Daughters – A Story of Five Generations by Bharati Ray

Title: Daughters: A Story of Five Generations
Author: Bharti Ray
Translator: Madhuchanda Karlekar
Publisher: Penguin India
ISBN: 9780143416487
Genre: Non-Fiction
PP: 336 pages
Price: Rs. 399
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

I do not read bad books. I do not think it is fair to the reader to do so, and hence the books I pick/choose to read turn out to be the very best, like the one I have just finished reading, “Daughters: A Story of Five Generations” by Bharti Ray. I have always believed that men and women are equal and therefore when a woman tries to make me get off my seat in a bus that is not reserved for her, I do not get up. I believe that if we are equal, then maybe even she should experience what it feels like to stand in a crowded bus. Not that my perception or point of view has changed after reading this book, it has definitely become broader to accommodate these incidents and situations. Why so you may ask? Let me tell you why and with that start the review.

Daughters, as the title, suggests chronicles the lives of five generations of women in the author’s household. We witness the story spanning a hundred years – from the late nineteenth-century to the early years of the twenty-first century. What I loved is how the author, talks about her household, the women in the household, their likes and dislikes, their lives, and connects them all to the larger framework of Indian Social History. It’s almost like reading two parallel storylines, which I am not complaining about at all, as I loved it.

The book speaks of six women in all – starting with hierarchical importance – Sundar-Ma, the great-grandmother, married at a tender age of twelve and yet wanting to live life on her own terms. She was the character closest to my heart while reading the book. Ushabala, the author’s grandmother on the other hand was the proud wife of a college lecturer and a home-maker. I found her very endearing – wanting to give it all to her daughter, the author’s mother Kalyani and not wanting anything for herself. Kalyani was the first woman graduate in the family and yet she gave up her career to sit at home and take care of her family and yet did not lose her feistiness, and her passion for adventure and travelling.

While reading her portions, I was almost reminded of my mother at all times, who is also a stay-at-home-mom. Most Indian Mothers are of that mould – sit at home and take care of what belongs to you or what comes to you, whichever happens first, and thankfully that is now changing, or is it really? Well, it is to some extent.

Towards the end of the book, we get to meet the author – who had her own set of achievements, that of being a lecturer, a pro-vice-chancellor to a member of the Rajya Sabha. And last but not the last we meet the author’s daughters – Khuku and Tista, again very strong and different personalities, when compared to the other women.

The thread that ran through the entire book, from my perspective was that of daughters and mothers – the bond shared and sometimes the differences that emerge as strengths. I enjoyed reading this book a lot. For one, it made me think at all times about women in India and women in the rest of the world. Of the differences and the similarities. Of what is given and what is denied. All in all, this is one book that is not to be missed. You have to read it and find out what it is all about, in order to truly cherish the moments, sentiment and thoughts.

You can purchase the book here on Flipkart or on the PenguinIndia website