Wendy (Riverside CA)
The Toss of a Lemon is a poignant and engaging novel about Sivakima and her family, crossing over generations and touching on a part of India's history during the first half of the 20th century. Padma Viswanathan's novel is rich in cultural detail and her characters are well drawn, complex and real in every way. It is not a book that can be read quickly, but rather is one that needs to be savored.
Laura (Houston TX)
A Luminescent View of a Rarely Seen India
Padma Viswanathan's debut novel is so heartbreaking and engaging that I would challenge anyone not to read it in one sitting (all 640 pages!). Each character is so richly drawn that whether the reader loves the character or not, she will surely want to find out his fate.
A reader doesn't have to have a particular interest in India in order to enjoy this book; in fact, I fit into this category. I was fascinated by the intricate details and even the strange beauty of the turn of the century caste system, even while I was, at times, almost repulsed by its strictures.
This book is an ideal selection for book clubs, lovers of family sagas, those who desire to know more about the Indian caste system, or anyone who loves a good, lyrically written story. To call this book a beach read would almost demean it, but it is a book to get lost in, and that is the highest recommendation I can give it.
Patricia (New Canaan CT)
The Strength of One Woman
I've always been fascinated with India and watching shows on PBS, but this 600+ page novel involved me intimately in the lives of Sivakami and her family and taught me much about colonial times in India and the fight for independence.
Widowed at age 18, Sivakima used her strength to survive by going against accepted mores to lead 2 generations of her Brahmin family, even as the caste system was undergoing great changes in its outmoded provincial prejudices and superstitions. I gave this book a 5, but I felt it was a little long and lagged in the center, however the beginning and the last third were riveting . Having an Appendix with the Family Tree and perhaps more translations of Indian words would have been an aid to me, too. Upon finishing the book, I felt an emptiness at having to say goodbye and leave Sivakami's extended family.