Divakaruni often focuses on the balance between two worlds -
most often the world of Indian immigrants struggling to assimilate themselves
into American life. While not moving away from this entirely, in Queen of
Dreams she takes a somewhat different tack in order to explore the gulf
between a mother able to interpret dreams and a daughter attempting to
understand her. Like so many novels written by Indian-American writers this one is set in California, Berkeley to be precise. Rakhi Gupta is a
thirty-something artist going through the usual traumas of family and career;
things are getting so bad that she's desperate enough to turn to her mother, a
dream reader (someone who can inhabit someone's else's dreams and interpret
them) for help.
However, before she can do so her mother is killed in a car accident and, her father, who was also in the car, says that before the accident her mother appeared to be on the trail of somebody in a black car. Rakhi believes she can find answers in her mother's notebooks, but as she reads the notebooks (translated by her father) she's in danger of finding more mysterious unlocked than she imagines.
Very widely reviewed, Queen of Dreams gets a thumbs up from most, for example, Donna Seaman writing for Booklist says that 'Divakaruni masterfully illuminates the tangible and the numinous, the abruptly changing present and the deep past in a page-turner lush with emotional, cultural, and spiritual insights.' Not all reviewers are unequivocal in their praise. For example, Leslie Pietrzyk, writing for The Washington Post's Book World concludes that 'for all that beauty and hope, the ultimate frustration of Queen of Dreams is that its connections have come too conveniently: packages, unexplained strangers, journals with answers, as if life were but a dream.'
This review is from the November 9, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.
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