17 June, 2016

Before we visit the goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Before we visit the goddess is the latest novel from the author of the much-acclaimed The mistress of spices and One amazing thing.

This Indo-American tale takes us on an extraordinary journey from the countryside of Bengal, India, to the streets of Houston,Texas.

It showcases the lives of 3 women related by birth - a grandmother, mother and daughter. Each is estranged from her mother, for various reasons, sometimes silly reasons, as is often the way in families. While breaking off ties brings with it a sweet sense of freedom, it’s also accompanied by loneliness and anguish that must be borne on one’s own.

Mistakes and misjudgements are painful aspects of the relationships and they give us an inside look into the struggles many mothers and daughters experience. Love choices don’t necessarily offer the escape that they first promise, and there is no happily ever after ending.

The story is told from the 1950s to 2020 in no chronological order and always from a different point of view; but even though the voices are from different generations, they appear to face the same troubles that the older generation faced. It also shows quite powerfully, how decisions made early in life can affect others, including future generations.

A few other characters shape the lives of the three women and their impact is brought in naturally and realistically. In fact every complex emotion in this book is portrayed authentically, which I think is possibly its greatest strength.

This warm and wise story about keeping connections and one’s independence has got to be instantly recognisable to most women. Read it.

Title: Before we visit the goddess
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Reviewed by Suneeta N, Highland Park Library.

Suneeta N particularly enjoys biographies, travel stories and reading authors from around the world. She loves a good discussion and believes that everybody has a story worth telling.

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