…by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
A story about family bonds…between a mother and her daughter, between a father and his daughter, between a wife and a husband, and between friends. Rakhi, who co-owns a coffee shop with her friend Belle, is a struggling painter. Mrs.Gupta, Rakhi’s mother, is a dreamer – she dreams about others and decodes it for them to help their lives. She is capable of dreaming about other people’s problems and helping them accordingly. And this ability of hers makes her maintain a distance from her daughter and her husband. The tale goes into how Rakhi, Mrs.Gupta’s daughter, yearns to be close to her mother…she (Rakhi) hopes to possess the same ability as her mother so she can be an important part of her mother’s life, but unfortunately she doesn’t share the ability.
When on the verge of losing the coffee shop to competition, Rakhi’s mother tries to help Rakhi and Belle. But tragedy strikes and Mrs.Gupta passes away. Then, the book goes on to reveal entries from Mrs.Gupta’s personal diary that helps Rakhi (and the readers) understand her mother better. The journal has confessions from Mrs.Gupta – how she left her sisterhood (of other dream tellers) to marry the man she fell head over heels for, how she couldn’t continue to love him the same way because she couldn’t give up dreaming (and helping others by that) for any reason, how being a dreamer was above all to her, how she wished Rakhi shared her talent and how she was disappointed to learn that she didn’t…all her innermost conflicts are revealed.
The story develops to bring out the relationship between Rakhi and her father…how Rakhi sees a whole new side of her father after her mother’s death, how her relationship with her father is taken to a whole new level, how Mr.Gupta helps the girls keep the coffee shop from going under. Light is also shed on the relationship between Rakhi and her ex husband, Rakhi and her daughter Jona and their family dynamics. And everything comes together with a 9/11 aftermath.
Now, here’s what I thought about the book – I loved how the tale was unique. Dream interpretation and all that – this is the first novel I’m reading that deals with dreams and its meaning, so it kept me going. Although I’m a skeptic when it comes to reading into dreams, psychics, etc…this book was interesting because it didn’t just deal with that. The family dynamics, the inner struggles Mrs.Gupta went through to chose her path, a daughter’s yearning to somehow becomes closer to her mother, the tragedy, the emotions – everything was put down in words beautifully.
BUT…I feel disappointed with the way it was all brought to an end. I don’t know why, but it left me very unsatisfied. The plot was coming along well, the characters were all given so much meaning, the flow was good…but then the end seemed incomplete. I felt like it was too abrupt, as if the author just wanted to bring it all together and get it done…when I finished reading the book, I didn’t get the feeling that it was over.
So, as much as I loved the storyline, the end left me with more questions than answers. And I have a feeling that the author could have done better in the second-half of the novel. I am totally in awe for the way she writes though…there is definitely something very captivating about the author’s words. So for that, I will say I liked the book.
Overall, I liked the novel because of the writing, the author, the concept. I would recommend it if you have read the author before and you like her work. Otherwise, read The Palace of Illusions by the author first, see how you like it and then maybe give this a shot.
My rating: 3*.
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