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Sister of My Heart: A Novel Paperback – January 18, 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (January 18, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038548951X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385489515
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (251 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni made an indelible impression on the literary world with her first novel, The Mistress of Spices, a magical tale of love and herbs. Sister of My Heart is less reliant on enchantment but no less enchanting as it tells the tale of two cousins born on the same day, their premature births brought on by a mysterious occurrence that claims the lives of both their fathers. Sudha is beautiful, Anju is not; yet the girls love each other as sisters, the bond between them so strong it seems nothing can break it. When both are pushed into arranged marriages, however, each discovers a devastating secret that changes their relationship forever.

Sister of My Heart spans many years and zigzags between India and America as the cousins first grow apart and then eventually reunite. Divakaruni invests this domestic drama with poetry as she traces her heroines' lives from infancy to motherhood, but it is Sudha and Anju who give the story its backbone. Anju might speak for both when she says, "In spite of all my insecurities, in spite of the oceans that'll be between us soon and the men that are between us already, I can never stop loving Sudha. It's my habit, and it's my fate." Book lovers may well discover that reading Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is habit-forming as well. --Margaret Prior --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Like the old tales of India that are filled with emotional filigree and flowery prose, Divakaruni's (The Mistress of Spices) latest work is a masterful allegory of unfulfilled desire and sacrificial love. It is also an intricate modern drama in which generations and castes struggle over old and new mores. Anju and Sudha are cousins, born in the same household in Calcutta on the same day?which is also the day on which their mothers learn that both their husbands have been killed in a reckless quest for a cave full of rubies. Sudha grows up believing her father was a no-good schemer who brought ruin on his cousin, Anju's upper-class father. As they mature, Anju dreams of college, Sudha of children, but arranged marriages divide and thwart them. Anju adjusts to life in California with a man who lusts after Sudha; Sudha grapples with a mother-in-law who turns to the goddess Shasti to fill Sudha's barren womb rather than to a doctor for her sterile son. Ultimately, the tie between Anju and Sudha supersedes all other love, as each sustains painful loss to save the other. When Sudha learns the truth about her father and no longer needs to right his wrongs, she sees that all along her affection for Anju has not been dictated by necessity. An inspired and imaginative raconteur, Divakaruni is sure to engender comparisons with Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things), but Divakaruni's novel stands in its own right as a compelling read. If her prose sometimes veers toward the purple, her mesmerizing narrative sustains it well. Agent, Sandra Dijkstra; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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

I love learning about women's lives in diverse cultures.
This book is a treat, amazingly written and with a beautifully story of friendship and love.
I cryed a few times with this book and laughed a few times.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Denise Bentley on March 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I am an avid reader and I must say that this book has taken over the number one spot of all times. It is the life story of two young girls born to the same household on the same day. Anju and Sudha are cousins growing up in a house full of women in the city of Calcutta, India. Their personalities, like night and day, bring us a blend of rich and exotic culture wrapped up in the ideas that society imposes upon them. The author entwines this richness with the silent sorrows and heavy heart of the unknown. A secret so dreadful that one of the girls can never shed light upon it without fear of losing everything that she holds dear.
There were several unexpected surprises in this book. The author is a fantastic storyteller and I found such astonishing insight into the human heart I was moved to reread the book just to spend time writing down quotes which I found to be words one could live by. I have yet to meet the person who was disappointed by this book. 3/17/01
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Busy Mom VINE VOICE on February 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
I just finished this book of which one of my book clubs suggested that I read ~~ and it is really one of the best written books I have read in a long while. The author doesn't grab your attention by the horn, but slowly, softly does she tell her story between two cousins and the choices they have made with their lives. And she is excellent weaving two lives separated by different cultures and oceans. You can feel the hot air in India, being surrounded by jasmine and you can see New York through Indian eyes ~~ feeling the sense of freedom of being away from a different lifestyle.
Anju and Sudha are unforgettable characters ~~ each so different in her way and both strong women. They grew up closer than twins for they were always together, and the stories they tell to each other are exiquiste. Then marriage and their choices regarding their marriages only kept them apart for a while ~~ after all, they are sisters of the heart and nothing can really keep them apart. It makes one wish that they had a close relationship like theirs in their lives. They are so fortunate and yet so unfortunate.
I highly recommend this book. It is an easy read and the whispers that Divakaruni tells throughout the book isn't easily forgotten. This is the first book I've read by Divakaruni and she is an author I promise to read again. She makes you feel like you're sitting some place safe while someone you love most in this world is telling you secrets only for your ears. And that is the most delicious feeling ever to have in this lifetime. If an author can create that feeling with a book, then she is superbly talented.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By J. CLARKE on April 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is an absolute pleasure to read...the writing is so lyrical you are transported to India, wearing a sari of gossamer cloth, hearing the tinkling of ankle bracelets, feeling the heat, smelling the spices, taking part in the day to day life of the five women who live in the Chatterjee household.
Even tho' the scenario about the ruby mine was rather hokie, I loved the story of the two girls/women, Anju and Sudha and the close, unbreakable bond they share, unbroken by time, distance, and marriage. I especially liked that there were surprises...I was delighted to find them.
Some books are like appetizers, some are like main courses, this one is dessert...savor it with a nice cup of tea and cake. It's scrumptious. Then recommend it to all your friends.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By on March 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
This beautifully written book is the story of two young women who are born on the same day, in the same home, to newly widowed mothers. The women are cousins, but grow up with a bond that makes them linked like sisters. The two have very different lives, as Anju, the witty and smart one, is truly a member of the Chaterjee family(a family of wealth and privilege), where as Sudha, the beautiful one, is a distant cousin. The story of how Sudha came to be, and who her father really is, is one of the many sub-stories that weaves its way into this intricately developed book.
This book is about love, relationships, and about the fragility of life. It is also about things not always being what they seem. For Anju and Sudha are both forced to enter into arranged marriages. Poor Sudha's heart belongs to a man she met only once but was instantly drawn to, as he was to her. And the man she is led to marry answers none of her prayers. He is tied to his mother whom Sudha is never able to please. That story develops in ways I do not want to give away, but Sudha's character is one of strength and conviction.
Anju is set with a man who she is instantly taken by, and at first he is taken by her, until he meets Sudha. He lives in America, and in time Anju leaves India to become an American wife as well. The complexities of the relationship between Anju and her husband Sunil are never quite revealed, leaving the reader to imagine what is truly going on. However, the tension is obvious, and Anju always remembers the way Sunil looked at her cousin with longing.
Years pass and so do experiences, and Anju and Sudha do not share how they truly feel through letters or phone conversations until finally Anju truly needs her.
Read more ›
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