The book opens with this thoughtful quotation from Manusmriti:
Yatra naaryasto poojyantay, ramantay tatra devata (Where women are honored, there the gods are pleased.)
Mythology came as a pleasant surprise while I was experimenting with different genres. It was wonderful to read The Palace Of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni (My review). So, when I got a chance to read & review her latest release Before WeVisit The Goddess, there was no second thought, just an excitement to read her new book! I truly thank Ms. Bharti Taneja from Simon & Schuster India for the review copy.
Before We Visit The Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni covers a long time span, telling intriguing stories of women of three generation. It basically talks about mother-daughter relationship, and how it could be complex, sometimes.
Sabitri, the mother, is a strong, ambitious woman, and wants to achieve big even though she knows it would be tough. Bela, the daughter, is somehow a selfish woman, and is ready to leave everything for her love of life. Just, they don’t know if chasing their dreams would lead them to the path of happiness. Tara, the granddaughter, is a carefree girl who carries an eccentric secret of her own personality.
The book opens beautifully when Sabitri struggles to write a letter to her granddaughter Tara whom she has never met (though she yearned to), and thinks how good daughters are fortunate lamps (as told by her mother, Durga, a sweet maker.)
The story swings between past and present, and the author has done it skilfully. Ms Divakaruni’s writing has a certain charm, and I feel connected to it. The language is poetic, beautiful as ever. I have known Bengali culture closely, so I could relate to the settings.
Characterization is nice. Here, Sabitri is a clear winner. I loved Sabitri's passion and innovation when she experimented with different recipes. I feel that Tara’s character is under-developed. I liked the character of Mrs. Mehta (the old and lively woman), but, I was disappointed as she disappeared just like that.
Initial chapters are cleverly crafted. Little secrets unfurl slowly that keep you hooked. The story is engrossing, and words move softly and smoothly, but then, multiple points of view start to distract me. The point of view moves from third person to first person, from past tense to present tense; In short, there is no order of point of view and tense.
Few things, peculiar, are left open ended, unexplained while I wanted to know more about them rather than churning my own imagination. I liked the end when Tara finally gets to know her grandma, Sabitri, through her letters where she teaches the gist of Fortunate Lamps.
For me, Before We Visit The Goddess was an intriguing read. Just, it was a tad confusing (after a certain point). As a reader, and writer, I feel that reading Ms. Divakaruni’s work is like studying a Good piece of literature. So, if you are a book lover (especially, Ms. Chitra Divakaruni lover), you can’t miss this book.