Initially reviewed here on 29/04/2008
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
The next stop in my Orbis Terrarum Challenge was India. As per my list, I was supposed to read R.K Narayan's book but my eyes fell on this one and the reviews were so amazing that I couldn't resist myself from picking it up. I had read 'Mistress of Spices' by the same author and was not too impressed with it, but the story and reviews of this tempted me to try her book once again and I am surely not disappointed this time!
The story is about a bengali family, two sisters, cousins - Sudha and Anju, born on the same day... growing up in a household of 3 widowed women in Calcutta. The story is quite typical and cliched, but what makes it different is the way in which it is told, the events are so interlocked and it goes zigzag across time and alternates between India and America (the 2 places where the story is set up). Both Sudha and Anju are inseparable and so attached to each other that you can hardly say where one begins and the other ends. Both of them are forced into arranged marriages under different circumstances and their lives takes a drastic turn when each of them gets to know of some hidden truth. The bond of love and friendship that they share is very heart warming and their relationship shows to what extent one can be selfless and find happiness in sacrificing for someone you love. The story is full of unexpected events and surprises. It just keeps you at the edge of your seat and I found it hard to put it down every night and would eagerly wait to read it the next day!
About the author, I have heard that she gets very stereotyped in her stories and focuses only on bengali women and their issues. Maybe if I pick up another novel of her's I might notice the same but nevertheless, I enjoyed the way she has chosen to tell the story. The chapters alternate b/w Sudha and Anju - one chapter from each person's perspective, yet the story is so smoothly flowing; you dont feel left out... searching for details. I loved the way she has used the right words to describe each situation or emotion... and it defnitely has an impact. Even if you dislike this author, you will still surely enjoy this book! By the time I finished the book, I was left craving for more.... I've heard there is a sequel to this and would love to read it!