Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
ISBN # 055299670X

Publisher: Black Swan

First Published: 1998

317 pages

Rating: 7/10

The Blurb:
Tilo owns a shop in Oakland, California, where she sells herbs and spices. But Tilo isn't just a shop keeper, she is also the Mistress of Spices. With her knowledge of their secret powers this high priestess of wisdom and magic helps customers find answers to the questions of love, loss and loneliness. But when Tilo herself falls in love with a visitor to her shop, she has to choose between personal happiness and keeping her mystical gift.

The Review:
There are books that, although nothing much happens, they still give the impression of many things bubbling under the surface – this is one of them. Not dissimilar to Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, this is a story of the magic in the mundane, only in this case, rather than trying to fit in and be “normal”, the narrator tries desperately to hang onto her mystery and magic, all the while battling her own desires in order to remain a Mistress of Spices. It’s a voyage of self-discovery, of living in a foreign land and trying to maintain the elements of home in a new country. It’s also, ultimately, a story of hope – that perhaps a woman really can have it all if she dares.

The style is at once flowing and jarring; a mix of flowing thought and halting speech that feels both familiar and foreign – a novel of extreme contrasts. The characters are fragile and all too human, afraid of losing their roots, but hoping for a better life in America than they had in India. There’s something absolutely charming about this story that I can’t quite put my finger on, almost as if one was under a spell while reading it that lingers after you’ve finished the last page. Absorbing, exotic and mysterious.


Blogger rohit said...

Must be an enjoyable read The Mistress of Spices: A Novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and orignal, this book is going in by "to read" list.

12:46 pm  

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