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Book review of 'Before we visit the Goddess'

Thursday, 7 July 2016
Nivedhika Krishnan

'Before We Visit the Goddess' is the latest offering from the stable of the best selling, award-winning author of 'Sister of My Heart', 'Palace of Illusions' and 'The Mistress of Spices', Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

It is yet another brilliant tale from the author, who cycles through three generations of strong and resolute women, exploring the complex relationship that is shared by them.

Sabitri is the daughter of a sweet-maker from a poor household in rural Bengal and aspires to get an education. Leelamoyi, a rich and domineering woman, decides to help her in realising the dream, but it was short-lived after Sabitri took an unforgivable mis-step in her household.

Years later, Bela, daughter of Sabitri, flees abroad with her lover and soon realises that her dreams are incongruent in the reality of the US. As the marriage falls apart, she forges a new path and unwittingly gives away her understanding of freedom, loyalty and heartbreak to her daughter, Tara.

The author effortlessly takes us from rural India to the streets of Houston, Texas, and imprints the multi-generational and trans-continental bonds.

Every woman would be reminded of her grandmother while reading Sabitri's letters to her granddaughter, Bela. It is the most cherished part in the book, too, where the elderly person gives away the wisdom that she gathered in a hard way, throughout her life, to the young girl.

The women take a huge chunk of the book, although men in their lives played a pivotal role in causing betrayal and heartbreaks to them.

A thin thread of love passing along the generations not only acts as a catalyst but also remains strong against various odds.

Though reading is not easy - as we have to go back and forth to tie the loose ends and get a better understanding - it is a highly recommended read for all fans of Chitra, or those who love reading stories of lives of migrants.

As it is, the author is not new to Tamilians, whose book 'Sister of My Heart' was adapted into a Tamil TV serial, 'Anbulla Snehithiye', by actress-director Suhasini Maniratnam in 2001.

'Before We Visit the Goddess' is published by Simon & Schuster.

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