Excerpt from Queen of Dreams by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Queen of Dreams

by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Queen of Dreams by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni X
Queen of Dreams by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2004, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2005, 352 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Why don't you sleep with Dad?" I kept asking. "Or at least with me, like Mallika's mother does? Don't you love us?"

She was quiet for so long, I was about to ask again. But then she said, "I do love you." I could hear the reluctance in her voice, like rust, making it brittle. "I don't sleep with you or your father because my work is to dream. I can't do it if someone is in bed with me."

My work is to dream. I turned the words over and over in my mind, intrigued. I didn't understand them, but I was in love with them already. I wanted to be able to say them to someone someday. At the same time, they frightened me. They seemed to move her out of my reach.

"What do you mean?" I asked, making my voice angry.

There was a look on her face--I would have called it despair, if I had known to do so. "I dream the dreams of other people," she said. "So I can help them live their lives."

I still didn't understand, but her face was pale and tight, like a cocoon, and her hands were clenched in her lap. I didn't have the heart to badger her further. Hadn't she admitted to the most important thing, that she loved us? I nodded my head as though I were satisfied with her explanation.

Her smile was laced with relief. She gave me a hug. I could feel the remnants of stiffness in her shoulders.

"Why don't you decide what you want for dinner?" she said. "You can help me cook it, if you like."

I allowed myself to be diverted and asked for ravioli. I'd had it for the first time on that fateful afternoon in my classmate's house. At home we rarely ate anything but Indian; that was the one way in which my mother kept her culture. She had never made ravioli before, but she looked it up in a cookbook. We spent the rest of the afternoon rolling, crimping, stuffing dough with cheese. The ravioli turned out lumpy, and the kitchen was a disaster, sauce smeared everywhere and shreds of cheese underfoot, but we were delighted with ourselves.

In the middle of boiling the ravioli my mother turned to me and said--though I hadn't shared my classmate's words with her--"Rakhi, remember this: being different doesn't mean that you're weird." She startled me in this manner from time to time, referring to things she couldn't possibly know. But her clairvoyance was erratic. It would create problems for us over the years, making her ignorant of events I expected her to know, secrets I longed to tell her but couldn't bear to speak of.

For example: the reason why I left Sonny.

At dinner Father admired the creative shapes we'd made and said it was a meal at once delicious and instructive. He cleaned up the kitchen afterward, humming a Hindi song as he scrubbed the sink with Comet, his hands encased in neon yellow rubber gloves. He was the tidy one in our household, the methodical one, always kind, the one with music. My mother--secretive, stubborn, unreliable--couldn't hold a tune to save her life. I wanted to be just like her.


Years later, after she died, my father would say, "Not true. She didn't love me, not really. She never let me get that close. The place right at the center of her--that was reserved for her dream gods or demons, whoever they were. She never shared that with anyone. Not even you."

And I would be forced to admit that he, too, was right.

Excerpted from Queen of Dreams by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, pages 1-9 of the hardcover edition.  Copyright© 2004 by Chitra Divakaruni. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: American Histories
    American Histories
    by John E. Wideman
    In American Histories, a collection of 21 short stories, John Edgar Wideman draws America's present ...
  • Book Jacket: I Found My Tribe
    I Found My Tribe
    by Ruth Fitzmaurice
    Ruth O'Neill was only 28 when she married film director Simon Fitzmaurice in 2004. Changing her...
  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
    by Patricia Hampl
    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Towards the end of Madeline Miller's novel Circe, the titular nymph is questioned by her son ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Other People's Houses
    by Abbi Waxman

    A hilarious and poignant novel about four families and the affair that changes everything.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.