Summary and book reviews of Sister of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Sister of My Heart

by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Sister of My Heart
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 1999, 322 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2000, 322 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Exceptionally moving, dramatic, and exquisitely rendered - a passionate novel about the extraordinary bond between two women, and the jealousies, loves, and family histories that threaten to tear them apart.

Anju is the daughter of an upper-caste Calcutta family of distinction. Sudha is the daughter of the black sheep of that same family. Sudha is startlingly beautiful; Anju is not. Despite these differences, since the day the two girls were born--the same day their fathers died, mysteriously and violently--Sudha and Anju have been sisters of the heart. Bonded in ways even their mothers cannot comprehend, the two girls grow into womanhood as if their fates, as well as their hearts, are merged.

When Sudha learns a dark family secret, that connection is threatened. For the first time in their lives, the girls know what it is to feel suspicion and distrust--Sudha, because she feels a new shame that she cannot share with Anju; and Anju, because she discovers the seductive power of her sister's beauty, a power Sudha herself is incapable of controlling. When, due to a change in family fortune, the girls are urged into arranged marriages, their lives take opposite turns. One travels to America, and one remains in India; both have lives of secrets. When tragedy strikes both of them, however, they discover that, despite distance and marriage, they must turn to each other once again.

Exceptionally moving, dramatic, and exquisitely rendered, Sister of My Heart is a passionate novel about the extraordinary bond between two women, and the jealousies, loves, and family histories that threaten to tear them apart. Only a novelist of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's sensitivity could create a tale as potent as it is poignant, and as true to the complexities of the human heart.

Chapter One
Sudha

They say in the old tales that the first night after a child is born, the Bidhata Purush comes down to earth himself to decide what its fortune is to be. That is why they bathe babies in sandalwood water and wrap them in soft red malmal, color of luck. That is why they leave sweetmeats by the cradle. Silver-leafed sandesh, dark pantuas floating in golden syrup, jilipis orange as the heart of a fire, glazed with honey-sugar. If the child is especially lucky, in the morning it will all be gone.

"That's because the servants sneak in during the night and eat them," says Anju, giving her head an impatient shake as Abha Pishi oils her hair. This is how she is, my cousin, always scoffing, refusing to believe. But she knows, as I do, that no servant in all of Calcutta would dare eat sweets meant for a god.

The old tales say this also: In the wake of the Bidhata Purush come the demons, for that is the world's nature, good and evil mingled. That is why they leave an ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About this guide
The questions and discussion topics that follow are designed to enhance your group's reading of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's novels Sister of My Heart and The Mistress of Spices, as well as her collection of short stories, Arranged Marriage. We hope that they will provide you with new ways of looking at and talking about these three books by a gifted writer, whose chameleon-like voice and mastery of rhythm create unforgettable characters and weave stories that are both exotic and familiar, fresh and universal.


About Sister of My Heart
In Sister of My Heart, Divakaruni tells the moving story of two cousins, Sudha and Anju Chatterjee. Born twelve hours apart in the same house, the women consider themselves twins, and from...
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!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Wall Street Journal

Ms. Divakaruni emphasizes the cathartic force of storytelling with sumptuous prose...she defies categorization, beautifully blending the chills of reality with rich imaginings.

Publishers Weekly

Mesmerizing...a masterful allegory of unfulfilled desire and sacrificial love.

Author Blurb Rosellen Brown
What an irresistibly absorbing immersion in the pleasure and anguish of growing up passionate in a world of duty, where each comfort is hedged with a constraint and love unsettles every plan. Sister of My Heart may be alive with exotic detail but its emotions are very recognizable.

Author Blurb Amitav Ghosh
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's account of family life in Bengal is warm and richly detailed. Hers is one of the most strikingly lyrical voices writing about the lives of Indian women today.

Reader Reviews

durai selvi

lovely
It is the book of love and care between two sisters. I amazed by reading. thank you chitra sister. Write like this to enlighten the society

radbad35

This book was amazing....I was wondering if anyone had a character list if the book. Read it! The first two charcters are the book are confusing with many charcters being introduced but read on. It's exciting!

Anonymous

I loved this book and am recommending it as summer reading for my reading group. It is beautifully written and a very compelling story.

J. Tatsch

Seeing the events through the eyes of Sudha and Anju in alternating chapters makes an interesting read. All the details of a family life in Calcutta, especially the expectations of the extended family are fascinating and incorporated naturally into ...   Read More

Write your own review!

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!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Sister of My Heart, try these:

  • The Girls jacket

    The Girls

    by Lori Lansens

    Published 2007

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Meet Rose and Ruby: sisters, best friends, confidantes, and conjoined twins. When Rose, the bookish sister, sets out to write her autobiography, it inevitably becomes the story of her short but extraordinary life with Ruby, the beautiful one. From their awkward first steps--Ruby's arm curled around Rose's neck, her foreshortened legs ...

  • For Matrimonial Purposes jacket

    For Matrimonial Purposes

    by Kavita Daswani

    Published 2004

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    An unconventional heroine defies tradition by making a marriage between the strict customs of India and the wild freedoms of America to find her own happy ending.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
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!

One Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hot Milk
    Hot Milk
    by Deborah Levy
    When people reach their early 20s, they often choose to go abroad – they want to get away from...
  • Book Jacket: Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    Ninety-Nine Stories of God
    by Joy Williams
    I have to preface this review by saying that I am not a fan of religious fiction - not even books ...
  • Book Jacket: The Book That Matters Most
    The Book That Matters Most
    by Ann Hood
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers appreciated the innovative structure of The Book That Matters ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Ashes of Fiery Weather
    by Kathleen Donohoe

    "Admirers of Pete Hamill and Kate Atkinson will appreciate this gripping novel." - Library Journal

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
    by Bryn Greenwood

    A memorable coming-of-age tale about loyalty, defiance, and the power of love.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Circling the Sun
by Paula McLain

An intoxicatingly vivid portrait of colonial Kenya and its privileged inhabitants.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

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.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.