Sister of My Heart by Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni
Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reading this novel was a marvelous experience. The writing is to be admired in all ways; the language is rhythmic, the images verdant, and the world of the book settles around you so that you can let go of your own world and live in Divakaruni’s space for a while. As is mentioned on the cover, the story has the feeling of a fairytale, though this is subdued and carefully executed, never standing in the way of the realism of the work. I thought the story of the rubies and the one ruby that the family holds onto for decades was a perfect microcosmic pattern, both literal and symbolic. The study of the women of the household felt so detailed. Without much effort, the author makes them real and yet through them we see the situation of women in their world, their strength and their limitations, their need for protection from men who take advantage of them. As with most of the South Asian fiction I have read, the marriage of the women is a consuming theme. There is a perfect moment in the work when Sudha’s mother-in-law proves what a monster she is, trying to force Sudha to abort her unborn daughter. I was enthralled until this was resolved. The book became a bit disjointed in its last fifty pages or so; this is one of those novels that feels as though it ends several times before it finally stops. But that is a small worry in a wonderful read.