A Pleasant Surprise
To be honest, I had my doubts about this book. At face value the story line appeared simple and I couldn't fathom how the author could draw it out over the course of 600+ pages and entertain the reader all at the same time. But entertain she does. Padma Viswanathan artfully draws together a compelling family saga with the deeply involved Indian caste system, and tops it off with a hint of intrigue and magical realism. This book is a wonderful read; not too demanding, yet very insightful. Suggested With: A chaise lounge and a sparkling fruit drink.
Rated of 5
by Liz (Kalamazoo MI)
The Toss of a Lemon
It was with great reluctance that I turned the last pages of The Toss of a Lemon. This rich and deftly written novel captures the lives of members of a conservative Brahmin family living in a small village in southern India. I was completely captivated with the world Viswanathan created in this novel. Im partial to novels about India, and The Toss of a Lemon far exceeded my expectations. Readers of Arundhati Roy, Rohinton Mistry and Manil Suri will enjoy this novel.
Rated of 5
by Andrea (Lafayette IN)
Sweeping Novel about Change in India
I enjoyed this sweeping novel of India in the 20th century as experienced by members of one family. Caught between ancient traditions and the beginning of the new India, the family must learn new ways of being a family. Most interesting to me was the theme of the unfairness of the caste system and the place of women in Indian society. Two of the main characters are women and much of the novel's events revolve around them and their reactions to changing social and cultural traditions.Overall the book paints a compelling portrait of a family in changing times in India or anywhere in the world. The book was also a fascinating telling of customs and culture of India. A book club would find much to talk about here, but it is to be enjoyed by anyone who loves a long read about another country.
Rated of 5
by Donna Lynn Edwards (New Milford CT)
Impressive Inspirational Journey
Padma Viswanathan has written an impressive inspirational journey of a fictional Brahmin family that spans three generations. Be prepared however, for diminutive details that encompass 616 pages, as the author describes life in India from 1896 to1962.
The Toss of a Lemon is based on the stories told to her by her grandmother and re-created in the character of Sivakami. This woman is widowed at eighteen with two small children, thereafter, she is subjected to the strict rules governed by her caste. Unable to leave the house, unable to be touched from dawn to dusk, unable to remarry I cant imagine how she feels at her age. Further, she must wear white and have her head shaved by an untouchable.
What a powerful woman she is. I love Sivakami because she is such a paradox as supplicant to her caste, yet defiantly disregarding caste rules in to raise her grandchildren. In a patriarchal society this takes strength, endurance and courage. She is a remarkable character. Padmas grandmother must be pleased and proud that her stories have new life. If you enjoy a book with a strong heroine or love historical epics this would appeal to you.
I felt the subject of the caste system was a missed opportunity for more in depth teaching. There is an assumption at times that the reader has an above average understanding of Indian social and cultural life. This would be an ideal reading group novel with a study guide. Brilliantly written by a debut novelist with tremendous talent.
Rated of 5
by Gwendolyn (Houston TX)
A novel to get lost in if you have the time The Toss of a Lemon is a 600+ page epic about three generations of an Indian family, covering the years 1896 to 1958. The matriarch of the family, a Brahmin widow, scrupulously adheres to the dictates of her caste and rarely leaves the confines of her household. In contrast to the widows sheltered life, her children and grandchildren confront a world in the process of modernization. The rigid boundaries between castes are dissolving, resulting in friction between classes and generations. Despite this charged social and political atmosphere, the home and family remain at the emotional center of this book.
Viswanathan tells this intricate domestic drama with delicacy and precision. Each scene feels necessary, and the plot moves quickly forward through the years. The length of this novel gives Viswanathan freedom to create a richly detailed world populated with well-drawn characters. I enjoyed getting lost in Viswanathans world, but after 600+ pages, I was hoping for more closure at the end of the story. The novels conclusion feels somewhat arbitrary and abrupt. This is a novel to get lost in if you have the time.
Rated of 5
by Iris (West Bloomfield MI)
The Toss of a Lemon The Toss of a Lemon is a rich family saga set in India between 1896 and mid 20th century. It is a story of a preadolescent girl who enters into an arranged marriage only to be widowed with two children in her teens. According to the standards of her Brahmin caste, she is condemned to a severely restricted life. The book follows her and subsequent generations of her family. She and the other characters are interesting and well defined, the culture fascinating, and the evolution of the caste system interesting.
For the most part the book was highly engaging, but too much of the time it would drift off and become tedious. While making reference to historical events such as India's independence from Britain, partition and two world wars, they were of little if any significance. There was enough of interest to keep me reading. I feel the book had the potential to be exceptional had it been edited more carefully. As is,I would rate the book at 3 1/2.
Rated of 5
by Patricia (Fallbrook CA)
The Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan
I am a big fan of Indian authors in general, and Indian family sagas in particular, in spite of a sameness in the genre recently. This book, though, is an original, and gives us an insider look at the caste system, and how it affected one Brahmin family over the years. How some of them retained the old traditions, and some didn't, and what this did to the family. It was a compelling read - had to finish - the writing is straightforward narrative, and very funny at times. On the down side, there were some loose ends. We know where everybody ended up, but not why; or what anybody thought about what happened, or even if they had any feelings at all.
A long book but I enjoyed it, I learned a lot about Hindu culture and mythology along the way.
Judge rules unused Borders gift cards to be worthless(May 23 2013) Borders owes nothing to holders of roughly $210.5 million of gift cards that had not been used by the time the bookstore chain shut down, a Manhattan federal...