Born in a big old Calcutta house on the same night, the wild, tragic night their fathers were both mysteriously lost, Sudha and Anju are cousins. Closer even than sisters, they share clothes, possessions, worries, dreams - and three mothers, who preside over the matriarchal Chatterjee household. But when Sudha discovers a terrible secret about their past, their mutual loyalty is sorely tested.
A family crisis forces the mothers to start the serious business of arranging the girls' marriages, and the inseparable pair are torn apart. Sudha moves to her new family'as home in rural Bengal, while Anju joins her immigrant husband in California. But nothing has prepared them for the pain, aswell as the joy, that each will have to face in her new life.
Rooted in Indian folklore and steeped in the mysticism of ancient tales, this bright, jewel-like novel shines its light on the bonds of family, on love and loss, against the realities of traditional arranged marriages, and the adjustments needed for modern life.
Like the old tales of India that are filled with emotional filigree and flowery prose, Divakaruni's (The Mistress of Spices) latest work is a masterful allegory of unfulfilled desire and sacrificial love. It is also an intricate modern drama in which generations and castes struggle over old and new mores. Anju and Sudha are cousins, born in the same household in Calcutta on the same day--which is also the day on which their mothers learn that both their husbands have been killed in a reckless quest for a cave full of rubies. Sudha grows up believing her father was a no-good schemer who brought ruin on his cousin, Anju's upper-class father. As they mature, Anju dreams of college, Sudha of children, but arranged marriages divide and thwart them. Anju adjusts to life in California with a man who lusts after Sudha; Sudha grapples with a mother-in-law who turns to the goddess Shasti to fill Sudha's barren womb rather than to a doctor for her sterile son. Ultimately, the tie between Anju and Sudha supersedes all other love, as each sustains painful loss to save the other. When Sudha learns the truth about her father and no longer needs to right his wrongs, she sees that all along her affection for Anju has not been dictated by necessity. An inspired and imaginative raconteur, Divakaruni is sure to engender comparisons with Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things), but Divakaruni's novel stands in its own right as a compelling read. If her prose sometimes veers toward the purple, her mesmerizing narrative sustains it well.
This is a great read. So much so that I intend to read others by this author.
Sister of my heart
Loved this book, a great read.