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Wednesday, Dec 01, 2021
Outlook.com
Review

Three Women, And A Glimpse Of Divinity

About mothers and daughters and their fragile and often fraught bond.

Three Women, And A Glimpse Of Divinity
Three Women, And A Glimpse Of Divinity
outlookindia.com
2016-07-09T10:53:30+05:30

Three women—grandmother, mother, daughter—populate Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s new book, a novel told in the form of short stories. So we meet Sabitri, the ailing grandmother, in 1995, as she puts pen to paper in her ancestral village, some distance from Calcutta. She is writing to her granddaughter, Tara, who she has never met, about a life-changing decision she is about to make. As she writes, we trace Sabitri’s dramatic rise and fall, from poverty to one of Calcu­tta’s best sweet-makers, her complicated marriage, the birth of her daughter, Bela, and life spiralling out of control.

Divakaruni shifts gears, and retreats more than three decades to her next story, exploring the story of a young Bela in 1963. The stubborn, reserved, whimsical daughter of a gritty and stoic Sabitri. Bela grows up, flees with her political refugee boyfri­end to American shores. Then comes along Tara, her daughter, who grows up with dil­emmas of her own—dropping out from college, and not knowing where she belongs. And so we swing from 1963 to 2020, each story picking a different period in the lives of these women, between east India and America. Each thread breaks down the tra­­ditional novel to suit the form of short stories. There is room to breathe even while being able to enjoy the narrative as a whole.

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