BEFORE WE VISIT THE GODDESS by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: A REVIEW

This 2016 publication particularly appealed to me because I had read Divakaruni’s One Amazing Thing and because I knew she was a professor of Creative Writing at The University of Houston, not only my alma mater, but also one of the five campuses in the system that employs me. She has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The New York Times, so I was aware of her writing prowess going in to this novel. It deals with four generations of women and the ins and outs of mother daughter relationships.

The setting ranges from Bengal, India to Houston, Texas, another selling point for me. Basically it is the story of Sabritri, daughter of the village sweets maker, Durga; Sabritri’s daughter Bella; and her daughter Tara. The novel explores many different forms and kinds of love, love that reaches across generations. All of the women are strong female characters, all finely developed and drawn. The novel opens with a letter which Sabritri is writing at Bela’s request to her granddaughter, Tara. The letter and its significance surfaces at the end of the novel where all is revealed, all suppressed emotions let out, all misconceptions straightened out, all family mysteries solved.  All in all it is a most satisfactory ending. The plot moves us through estrangements and reconciliations as it twists and turns, masterfully allowing us to feel what the characters are feeling.

This author is a supreme storyteller, a fine characterization master, and a very readable author.  This is one I stayed up late to finish.

Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."

7 thoughts on “BEFORE WE VISIT THE GODDESS by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: A REVIEW”

  1. This sounds like a tremendously good book. I’m so glad you read it – and how lovely that you know the author so well. It’s always special when you get to read a marvellous book by someone you know and respect. Have a great week-end, Rae:))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not to correct you or anything, BUT… I do not know the author personally. I have read and admired her writings and she works for the same University system I do, but there are five separate universities in the system. University of Houston Clear Lake where I work is almost an hour’s drive from U of H Main Campus where she teaches.(Houston is a very large city, geographically.) I am much more of a fan or follower than a friend. That said, I would love to meet her.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We are fortunate to have this author live and work so near to us. I’ve seen her lead the discussion several times during the Q&A portion of many authors’ readings at the Inprint series.

    Liked by 1 person

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