Rated of 5
by Gwendolyn 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 Muneeb An incredible read
This was an incredible read. Viswanathan's writing is good writing: informed, tight, vivid. It's a rich, beautiful, and poetic epic story. I recommend this historical novel to all who enjoy the heft of a great piece of literature.
Rated of 5
by Wendy Highly Recommended 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.
Rated of 5
by Laura 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.
Rated of 5
by Patricia 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.
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