SISTER OF MY HEART (1999)
A national bestseller translated into over 20 languages, Sister of My Heart (Doubleday/Anchor) is the tale of two women, best friends whose lives are transformed by marriage, as one woman comes to California, and the other stays behind in India.
Anju is the daughter of an upper-caste Calcutta family of distinction. Sudha is the daughter of the black sheep of that same family. Sudha is startlingly beautiful; Anju is not. Despite these differences, since the day the two girls were born—the same day their fathers died, mysteriously and violently—Sudha and Anju have been sisters of the heart. Bonded in ways even their mothers cannot comprehend, the two girls grow into womanhood as if their fates, as well as their hearts, are merged.
When Sudha learns a dark family secret, that connection is threatened. For the first time in their lives, the girls know what it is to feel suspicion and distrust—Sudha, because she feels a new shame that she cannot share with Anju; and Anju, because she discovers the seductive power of her sister’s beauty, a power Sudha herself is incapable of controlling. When, due to a change in family fortune, the girls are urged into arranged marriages, their lives take opposite turns. One travels to America, and one remains in India. When tragedy strikes both of them, however, they discover that, despite distance and marriage, they must turn to each other once again.
THE SEQUEL TO SISTER OF MY HEART IS THE VINE OF DESIRE.
PRAISE FOR SISTER OF MY HEART
"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."--Amazon.com., Editorial Review
" 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. . . . [A] mesmerizing narrative."--Publisher's Weekly
"Like Rebecca Wells's Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, Divakaruni's debut novel, The Mistress of Spices (LJ 2/1/97), was a word-of-mouth hit; its blend of magical realism and culinary sensuality also appealed to fans of Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate (LJ 9/1/92). This second novel is a bit more earth-bound. Born on the same day their fathers die in a mysterious accident, Sudha and Anju are more than just cousins; although Anju is the daughter of an upper-caste Calcutta family and Sudha the daughter of a black-sheep renegade, they are sisters of the heart, bound by a deep love. Narrated by Sudha and Anju in alternate chapters, this is the tale of their relationship over the years, a friendship that is almost destroyed by jealousy and family secrets. . . . Filled with tender, moving moments." --Library Journal"The power of stories and the strength of women who tell them are lovingly rendered in--a tale as rich and bountiful as the scents and sounds of Calcutta."--San Francisco Chronicle
"Her literary voice is a sensual bridge between worlds. India and America. Children and parents. Men and women. Passion and pragmatism."--USA Today
"Irresistible--With this enchanting novel, Divakaruni shows herself to be a skilled cartographer of the heart."--People
"Evokes all the trials and splendor of a fairy tale--. Her intricate tapestry of old and new worlds shines with rare luminosity as Divakaruni celebrates the beauty and sustenance to be found in bonds wrought between women."--The San Diego Union-Tribune
"Beautifully blends the chills of reality with the rich imaginings of a fairy tale."--The Wall Street Journal