Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Book Review: Before we visit the Goddess - C. B. Divakaruni

"My mother clutches at the collar of my shirt. I rub her back and feel her tears on my neck. It's been decades since our bodies have been this close. It's an odd sensation, like a torn ligament knitting itself back, lumpy and imperfect, usable as long as we know not to push it too hard.” 

A novel about three women - Sabitri, her daughter Bela and Bela's daughter Tara - that spaces through the decades and give each of them separate voices to recount their stories. A novel about the relationship mother and daughter and how complicated it is. 
It is a bitter sweet book, it did not give me a sense of completeness at the end, the "happy ending" that you normally expect in fiction. The women in the book are strong yet weak - the strongest is Sabitri who fights for her dream, the weakest Tara - they are surely admirable in how they made a career for themselves despite being in a country where women are less educated that men and despite being husband-less. On the other side, they are separated from their daughters and do little to reconcile with them. I am not sure if it is a culture thing or just me, but I would properly actively look into reaching out if my daughter stopped talking to me or moved to another continent. This has left me a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, this not doing something to resolve things in their relationships.
Divakaruni writes well, in an involving and calm-feeling manner, and the novel is pleasant enough, however it doesn't reach the greatness of Sister of my heart which remains one of my favourite books ever. I always like to read novels set in India though, even if this one is partially set in USA too so the book is less impregnated of the flavour of the Indian culture.

Overall a novel that I read with pleasure but I will probably forget about in a couple of weeks. It did not really leave me with reflections or any poignant thought.

Overall rating: 6.5   Plot: 6    Writing style: 6.5     Cover: 6

Title: Before we visit the Goddess
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 208
Publication year: 2016

The daughter of a poor baker in rural Bengal, India, Sabitri yearns to get an education, but her family’s situation means college is an impossible dream. Then an influential woman from Kolkata takes Sabitri under her wing, but her generosity soon proves dangerous after the girl makes a single, unforgivable misstep. Years later, Sabitri’s own daughter, Bela, haunted by her mother’s choices, flees abroad with her political refugee lover—but the America she finds is vastly different from the country she’d imagined. As the marriage crumbles and Bela is forced to forge her own path, she unwittingly imprints her own child, Tara, with indelible lessons about freedom, heartbreak, and loyalty that will take a lifetime to unravel.

The Author:
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning and bestselling author, poet, activist and teacher of writing. Her work has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, the O.Henry Prize Stories and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her books have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Bengali, Russian and Japanese, and many of them have been used for campus-wide and city-wide reads. Several of her works have been made into films and plays. She lives in Houston with her husband Murthy and has two sons, Anand and Abhay, who are in college. 

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