Source: Simon & Schuster – I recieved this in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Edition: Hardback, 224 Pages
Genre: Historical/Literary Fiction
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Nobles
A beautiful, powerful new novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of Sister of My Heart and The Mistress of Spicesabout three generations of mothers and daughters who must discover their greatest source of strength in one another—a masterful, brilliant tale of a family both united and torn apart by ambition and love.
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.
In her latest novel, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni explores the complex relationships between mothers and daughters, and the different kinds of love that bind us across generations. Before We Visit the Goddess captures the gorgeous complexity of these multi-generational and transcontinental bonds, sweeping across the twentieth century from the countryside of Bengal, India, to the streets of Houston, Texas—an extraordinary journey told through a sparkling symphony of voices.
Before We Visit the Goddess is a multi-generational tale that focuses on three women in the same family. The story gives up snippets of the most important times in each of their lives, to show how they became who they are or discovered who they’d like to be.
This is my first novel by Divakaruni, but I doubt it will be my last. Her writing is excellent! She pours so much life into her characters, and I always love to see an author who isn’t afraid to show the effects the past can have on not just one person but those around them and how all events are seen differently by each person involved. It’s like a lesson in human nature. Sabitri, Bela (her daughter), and Tara (her granddaughter), all go through similar but wholly unique journeys that lead them through mistakes, separation, and eventual peace. Their individual stories are told in a non-linear fashion that pulls things back piece by piece and not only uses sort of progression in time, but also relies heavily on memories. I think Bela is probably my favorite of three, she goes through some pretty rough times but seeing her be able to turn her life around and put it in a new place where she could truly enjoy herself was so worth all the pain in my heart that it caused. There are even a few chapters devoted to other people in their life, as their importance is revealed their the story of their meeting. They become friends, confidants, and symbols of the moments that changed their lives. Their Indian culture and familial history can be seen as a character all on it’s own, and how each of these three women have very different relationships with it.
It is on the shorter side, but I really felt that even with a few chapters each that Divakaruni covered a lot of ground and really managed to add a ton of depth to the story. The combination of rich characters and relationship, along with the really excellent and unique writing style really pulled together to make a lovely book. It’s every bit heart warming as it is heart wrenching, and it’s certainly one that will stick with me for a long while.