Has it ever happened to you that you start reading a book and feel like the story has taken you into itself like a dream-like trance? You know you are reading words and turning the pages as you go, but then you forget all that and drown into the fluidity of the words. The prose sings to your heart like poetry and at times you have to pause to drink in the beauty of it all.
The Mistress of Spices is set in an Indian spice shop in Oakland, US. Tilo was born in India with magic in her blood. Her magic had always led her fate and destiny. Now, as a mistress of spices, in her little spice shop in Oakland, she uses her magic and her training in the power of spices to help the local Indian community. Her spices always aided her in her services till the American walked into her shop. The true test of her magic and power came when he fell in love – a feeling forbidden to her by the spices.
Back when The Mistress of Spices, caught my fancy as a movie starring Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott, I hadn’t heard about the book it was based on. Much later it was a friend’s high praise and raves that had me wanting to read this book. At that point, I hadn’t been introduced to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni at all. This book has made me truly appreciate and indulge in her craft. The characters born of her pen were all so relatable and recognizable that I silently let out a prayer for them. With her emotional depth and imagination, Divakaruni proves her merit at convincing her readers of the inconvincible. Also, since magical realism is an unfamiliar realm to me this will be the book that introduced me to it.
In this story, through her characters, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni reflects on the rules and boundaries set by culture and its impact on people and their relationships. Selfless and forbidden love is a recurring theme in the story. She paints a picture of the pain and the longing in love and then the selfless sacrifice resulting from love. This story made me feel like a fly on the wall of the premises, where the story is set, to the point that I simply did not want to leave.
Rating : 3.5/5
Verdict: The book is not for everyone. It speaks of the pain and the agony of forbidden love. It speaks of the selfless sacrifice that transpires from love in its purest form. The beauty of it is in the poetry in the words and the world Divakaruni weaves within them.
ISBN : 978-0-552-99670-9
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, 1997
Genre : Fantasy fiction
Pages : 322 pages
Black Swan, 2005