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As Sweet as Honey Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 12, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (February 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307960447
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307960443
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,084,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ganesan’s first novel since Inheritance (1998) is set on the island of Pi in the Bay of Bengal. The tale is narrated by Mina, who, as a 10-year-old, watches in awe as her six-foot-tall aunt Meterling falls in love with a chubby, genial Englishman by the name of Archer, only to tragically lose him just after they had exchanged their vows. Meterling’s family is scandalized to learn she is pregnant with Archer’s child, but it only fuels young Mina’s imagination about their courtship. After most of his family gives Meterling the cold shoulder, Archer’s cousin Simon comes to visit her, and he and Meterling fall in love quite unexpectedly. Smitten, Simon proposes to Meterling and spirits her and her baby, Oscar, to England, where Meterling not only experiences profound culture shock but also is thrown by the appearance of the ghost of Archer, who doesn’t approve of her relocation. Whether she’s describing verdant, lush Pi or bustling, crowded London, Ganesan brings Meterling’s two worlds, and her conflicted feelings about each of them, to vibrant life. --Kristine Huntley

Review

 “The imaginary Indian coastal island of Pi, where Ganesan has set her previous fiction, works beautifully as the setting for this East Asian homage to To the Lighthouse, both the nostalgic recreation of a lost perfect moment and an exploration into Woolf’s ‘thousand shapes of love.’ The novel is masterful at exploring the difficulty of cultural identity and integration. There’s also a bit of magical realism in the shape of a
ghost. But ultimately, this is a novel about the many permutations of both love and
family. . . . The characters’ genuine charm and the girlish, witty energy of the storytelling are irresistible.”—Kirkus starred review

“This sweet, sun-drenched, lovely book is the perfect antidote to a long, gray winter.”––Kate Tuttle, The Boston Globe
 
“Whether she is describing verdant, lush Pi or bustling, crowded London, Ganesan brings two worlds, and [the protagonist’s] conflicted feelings about each of them, to vibrant life.”––Kristine Huntley, Booklist
 
“Beautifully crafted . . . A young woman living on a lush island in the Indian Ocean is torn between modern ways and her elders’ beliefs.”––People Magazine
 
“Ms. Ganesan is one of several female novelists from India who trace the trajectories of middle-class Indians as they move between their own country and America or Britain. (Others include Jhumpa Lahiri and Sunetra Gupta.) This experience gives the writer and her characters critical distance from both India and the West, and nurtures clear-sightedness and irony, nurtures, in fact, the novel of manners. The considerable appeal of As Sweet as Honey is that East and West, romance and novel, coexist so enticingly.”––Claire Hopley, The Washington Times

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Beautifully written, with well-developed characters.
Kathleen Ann Burt
As a result, this makes a great read for those very familiar with Indian and South Asian culture, but also those new to it who are eager to explore and learn more.
skrishna
I found the first half of the book hard to get through.
A book lover in Azle Texas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A book lover in Azle Texas VINE VOICE on April 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Sometimes when reading the description of a book I feel that it would really be a read that I would enjoy. This is a well written book and the characters were interesting. Especially since these characters are driven by traditions and societal expectations that are so removed from my own.
I found the first half of the book hard to get through. A little slow moving for me. However it was carried along by the writer's ability to give some beautiful description of the island that made me feel that I could smell the flowers and breathe the air.
This was really the aspect that carried me along so that I wanted to continue into the second half of the book to see how the characters resolved the conflict of either following those traditions and expectations or following their heart's desires.
Well written, beautiful descriptions but I still give it an overall "3". Not exciting but not a bad book either.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Canadian eReader TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is not the usual kind of book I read, but Random House was kind enough to give me a free review copy.

I found it to be a very well written, gentle read and did enjoy it. I personally wasn't very familiar with the culture of South Asia, but I felt the author did an excellent job of making it comprehensible to an outsider without over explaining. It was easy to become drawn into Meterling's world on Pi and understand the expectations that were on her as well as to understand the consequences her decisions might have. As I am not from that culture, the importance placed on, for example, compatible horoscopes in marriage partners is foreign to me, but due to the excellent writing, I could easily understand its impact within Meterling's family.

This is also a book of well-drawn contrasts and conflicts. I found it interesting to compare and contrast the viewpoint of the children to Meterling's situation to Meterling's own thoughts. A nice contrast is also set up between the colour, warmth and friendliness of Pi and the cold, greyness of London. This ties in well to Meterling's emotional state at the time as she attempts to deal with the aftermath of the decisions she's made.

The theme of adhering to traditions and society's expectations vs following your heart is nicely explored through several of the characters and was, for me, one of the strongest aspects of the novel. It is turned around at the end as well in a neat twist.

Personally, I didn't enjoy the Archer ghost storyline and this was for me the weakest part of the book. However, I could understand its significance and impact on Meterling.

All in all, I found this a gentle, easy read and enjoyed it. I gave As Sweet as Honey four stars out of five.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anne on March 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
3.50 stars.

I think the South Asian culture is wildly interesting. I haven’t read anything from that region or on that culture so I thought the book sounded fascinating. The Indian/Hindi culture is so vivid and colorful and that aspect of the culture was really brought out in this book. I could practically smell the jasmine and feel the sun on my face….what a glorious place to grow up.

I thought the location shift in the novel provided richness to the plot that could not have been achieved in any other way. Going from Pi to England was such a sharp contract in culture and I thought it really highlighted the difficulties that were felt by Meterling.

The only thing I felt was a struggle was the speed of the novel. It took me a long time to get thru the first half of the book. I was just so anxious to get to know Meterling and I felt like it simply took too long to actually get into the overall story.

I really struggled with the rating on this novel, I wanted to give it higher marks for it’s narration style, prose, and intriguing plot, however it took me so long to get into the book that I really didn’t feel as engaged as I had hoped. Perhaps it’s a personal preference, it was good but could have been outstanding with a bit of a faster pace. It was only 288 pages so it should have been a fast read for me, but it seemed to go on much longer than necessary.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N. Ferguson R. on January 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful novel, rich in sense of place, culture, community, and the inner lives of it's characters. This is the kind of read I really love~ a book that feels like spending time with people I would like to know, a book that makes me feel almost as if I have spent time in a different world. Fans of "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" who would like to find a new author's voice will enjoy this lovely, good-hearted, yet complex story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Satia Renee VINE VOICE on December 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As Sweet as Honey by Indira Ganesan is a novel set on an island in the Indian Ocean, focusing on the story of Meterling who falls in love with an Englishman. Beautifully written, the prose reads almost like poetry—evocative, delicate, and even elegant. Through the protagonist, the conflict between colonialism and nationalism are explored although not fully realized.

The novel is divided into three parts. All three are told through Meterling’s niece Mina. However, the second part can only be imagined by Mina because she is not immediately present for this part of Meterling’s story and it is this part that gives way to magical realism. However, this is not used to especially good effect. The end result feels more manipulative than narratively necessary. Certainly, this novel is not nearly as magical as Roy’s The God of Small Things. Absolutely not as politically provocative as Roy’s War Talk. Except for Meterling, we never come to know any of the other characters and even what we know about her is open to debate because the reader never knows if Mina’s descriptions are actual or her own interpretation. Perhaps that is Ganesan’s intention, to use the unreliable narrator to cause the reader to question everything.

I wanted to read this novel because, according to the description, the author is “likened to Arundhati Roy” (hence, my comparing Ganasen’s writing to Roy’s) so I expected to especially like this one. Unfortunately, I don’t anticipate that I’ll remember much about this novel a year from now. None of the characters were interesting enough to be truly memorable. This is one of those books I wanted to love but barely even liked. If not for the elegance of the prose, I’d not commend it at all.
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More About the Author

Indira Ganesan was born in Srirangam, South India, and immigrated to the United States when she was five years old. Her first novel, The Journey, was recognized by Granta's first Best 52 American Novelists campaign. Her second novel, Inheritance, was published in the US when she held a Mary Ingraham Bunting award at Radcliffe College. She has held fellowships from The Fine Arts Work Center, The MacDowell Colony, and the Paden Institute for Writers of Color. Her latest novel, As Sweet As Honey, was published in February, 2013.

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