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Queen of Dreams: A Novel Hardcover – September 14, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spiked with elements of mystery, suspense and the supernatural, Divakaruni's sixth novel is a pleasantly atypical tale of self-discovery. Rakhi, a single mother and struggling artist living in Berkeley, Calif., has always been vaguely aware of her own mother's unusual gift—the ability to interpret dreams. Between juggling a laundry list of other priorities—keeping her floundering tea shop afloat after a Starbucks-esque supercafe moves in across the street, battling her ex-husband for their daughter's affections, finding her artistic voice—Rakhi longs to know more about her mother's past and her own hazy Indian heritage. After a mysterious car accident claims her mother's life, Rakhi, with her father's help, sets out to decipher Mrs. Gupta's dream journals in hopes of unlocking the secrets of her peculiar double life. A shadowy man in white who appears at pivotal moments, a sinister rival and entries from Mrs. Gupta's dream journals all punctuate this cleverly imagined tale of love, forgiveness and new beginnings. Meanwhile, September 11 disrupts Rakhi's search for identity, and a vicious attack on her friends and family calls their notions of citizenship into question. Divakaruni (The Mistress of Spices; Sister of My Heart; etc.) does a good job working current issues into the novel and avoids synthetic characterization, creating a free-flowing story that will captivate readers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

The word magical gets thrown around a little too casually in review circles, but when it comes to Divakaruni’s new novel, the description seems apt. More cynical reviewers feel the plot is contrived and the characters hollow. The book’s boosters praise Divakaruni’s descriptive skills, shifting point of view, and acute presentation of Indian-American culture. The mother’s eponymous dreams, presented in separate chapters, add complexity to the narrative structure and drop a heavy dose of mysticism to this tale of immigrant assimilation. It is this same mysticism that determines the success of the fictional illusion: for some it is awe-inspiring; others just see smoke and mirrors.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (September 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385506821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385506823
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #800,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's acclaimed novels for adults include the bestselling The Mistress of Spices, soon to be a motion picture. Her previous book for young readers, The Conch Bearer, was a Booklist Editors' Choice, Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, and is a 2005 Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee. She teaches creative writing at the University of Houston and lives with her husband and two sons in Sugarland, Texas.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Ratmammy VINE VOICE on October 3, 2004
Format: Hardcover
QUEEN OF DREAMS by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

October 3, 2004

I became a fan of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni when I read SISTER OF MY HEART. QUEEN OF DREAMS is the fourth novel by Divakaruni that I've read and it did not disappoint. For those who have read her books, this one resembles VINE OF DESIRE the most, with both taking place in the Bay Area of Northern California, but at the same time has references that lead back to India. Both books relate to the immigrant's life in California, and how their life has changed since leaving their homeland.

But that is where the resemblance stops. In QUEEN OF DREAMS, the focus is on relationships, mostly between a mother, Mrs. Gupta, and her adult daughter Rahki. While VINE OF DESIRE was rooted in the physical world, QUEEN OF DREAMS flows into the world of dreams, as Mrs. Gupta has the ability to decipher them, be it her own or others. She has the ability to help others through their dreams, and this is what drives her. While mother and daughter are close, this is one area that Rahki is not allowed to trespass. She desires her mother's talent, but it was not passed on to her. It leaves Rahki bitter and resentful that she cannot share in this part of her mother's life.

The book follows Rahki's attempts to understand her mother better, and at the same time the reader, and later Rahki, are allowed to see what Mrs. Gupta's dream journal confesses. The journal tells Mrs. Gupta's story, from her days in India to her dreams that foretell her death.

Rahki, in the meantime, is newly divorced and living with her young daughter Jona. She is trying to survive by running a coffeehouse and selling her paintings, hoping to be "discovered" one day.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
From the domestic to the mystical, Divakaruni has a unique talent for blending the daily lives of Indian-Americans with the myths of a distant homeland.

In a story that examines the relationship of a troubled young mother, in the middle of a divorce, with her own mother, a dream teller, we learn of the indecision and self-doubt that haunts Rakhi. Fascinated by her mother's past, the years spent in India training to counsel clients by reading their dreams, Rakhi is obsessed more with the known than the unknown, convinced that if she can solve the riddle of a distant mother, she will locate her own missing pieces.

When Rakhi's mother dies in an accident, the daughter is left with a failing tea shop, her mother's Dream Journals and unresolved questions about her failed marriage. When even her painting hits a brick wall and inspiration disappears, Rakhi is bereft. But as Rakhi's father translates the dream journals, painful truths are revealed to father and daughter, bringing them closer in grief and understanding. The journals are an unexpected parting gift, an opportunity for Rakhi and her father to reawaken their long-dormant relationship and heal past misunderstandings.

Through the journals, we learn of the despair of an intuitive Indian girl, forced to choose between her talent for dream telling and the love of the man she marries. The seemingly complacent wife, who has helped so many through difficulties, is a multi-layered, complex woman beset by her own inner challenges, searching for peace and contentment, faced with untenable choices. This mother is warm and accessible, her deep conflicts and passions revealed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn Radtkey-gaither on October 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have now read 4 of Ms. Divakaruni's books, and hope she writes another novel soon. She has a tremendous gift to make her images come to life in your head as you are reading. I also felt again that I was being given a privileged tour of a culture different than my own, and could see my own culture through different eyes. So in addition to being entertained, I was being educated. Along with a great story comes a little magic--in that way her work reminds me of Alice Hoffman--the magic seems like a completely natural and believeable part of the world. Read this book, and then read the rest of her work!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Wilson on December 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I open the first pages of a novel by Chitra Divakaruni, I know I'm in good hands. There will be a fascinating, exciting story, interesting and compelling characters, and every event will be told in rich, poetic prose. Queen of Dreams is no exception. I read it very quickly because the story kept pulling me forward; one climax after another made for a very exciting read. I reread it more slowly, then, to enjoy details I might have missed. I was never disappointed. I recommend this book highly to anyone who is interested in relationships between family members and between friends. The events of 9/11/01 are also an important part of this story, with ramifications that are powerful and ring with truth.

Don't let the inclusion of Dream Journals throw you off. This thread running through the novel is more real than anything else in it; it's vivid and moving and an important part of the journey. It is not my idea of "magic realism." It is my idea of great story telling that makes me want to keep the pages turning in order to find out what happens next. When it's over, I have a lot to think about. I will certainly recommend it to my book group.

I envy those of you who have not yet read Queen of Dreams. You have a treat in store for you. I hope Divakaruni will gift us with another novel soon.
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