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Sister of My Heart (Anju and Sudha #1)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,216 Ratings  ·  1,162 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 19th 1999 by DoubleDay (first published 1997)
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Aug 11, 2008 Nadiah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Reading this novel is like letting your heart be the passenger of the wildest roller coaster. And, for me, roller coaster is frustrating.

So, yes, I was frustrated reading this beautiful novel.

It is full of secrets, revealed one by one within the chapters. When the secret was out, I felt like leaving the book on the table. It was too hard to keep up with.

But, I couldn't.

So, I kept on reading until the last page. It was just too beautiful to leave behind.

The characters, Anju and Sudha, are the roo
Mar 27, 2014 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have very few books that I have rated 5 stars. A 5 is reserved for the best of the best for me. Books that I look forward to carving out time to read, books that I think about when I'm not reading them.
My review won't do this fine little book justice. The writing was amazing, the story was engaging, the characters were real, there was emotion - joy, sadness, heartbreak, wonder, hatred, AND there is a sequel.
Maybe this is why I rate it so highly? I can't wait to curl up with these characters
Diane S ☔
Mar 10, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 The first thing I noticed when reading this novel was how the prose was so descriptive, flowery almost, it just flowed so easily. Two young girls, raised as sisters, always together, as closer as two can be when their lives are derailed as secret is revealed. This secret will pull the girls apart and send them on different paths.

There are many more secrets to come and each one revealed changes the course of a life. I am not sure how I felt about these girls, I don't think I fully liked eithe
Feb 10, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this isn’t as mystical as Mistress of Spices, it’s as enchantingly and compellingly told. Two cousins in Calcutta are born prematurely into a household of women on the same day as their fathers die. Their lives are woven together like gold and silver threads, providing strength and contrast to each other as they grow together — and apart — through years, cultures, and arranged marriages. There are secrets, dramas, of all...secret dramas! I loved the complicated relationship betw ...more
This is the story of two cousins, Anju and Sudha, who grow up together as sisters in Calcutta, and the secrets, loves and life events that threaten to come between them. It is about the differing lives chosen by (or perhaps, more accurately, chosen for) these girls as they turn into women. It is about how they manage the potentially heart-breaking situations life throws at them. There were plenty of twists in the story - some more surprising than others.

Told by the two girls in alternating chap
Ajay Pradhan
May 26, 2011 Ajay Pradhan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a late review. The book was published eleven years ago in 1999 by Doubleday. Yet, I hadn’t heard of the author until this month, even though I have seen the movie “Mistress of Spices”, based on her novel by the same title. After reading the book, I read a number of reviews of the novel. I wanted to see what other readers, critics and reviewers thought of the novel, especially the author’s style. Most reviews I read gave positive review of the novel and extolled the author’s gift of writi ...more
Apr 05, 2014 ☮Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just a beautifully well-written story about love in all its variations, forgiveness, and female survival and resilience in modern-day India. Anju and Sudha are born on the same day in the same house, and although they are distant cousins, they feel like twins and kindred spirits. Their love for each other is very special indeed, each repeatedly putting the needs of the other before her own. They grow up with dreams of what the future holds – Anju assumes they will go to college together, and Sud ...more
May 13, 2016 Lynn rated it really liked it
I'm not a great reader of chick-lit and without the exotic setting and key issues in the book, I doubt I would have picked this up.....which would have been a shame. I really loved the drama, romance and passion this book offered. It seems to be about a house full of fractious women all crazy about family position and reputation....I thought I'd throw it across the room. Nope, it was great....go figure.
A romantic, coming-of-age, family saga in Calcutta, India. Two girls growing up in the same household, bonded so strongly even at birth that they grow up sharing inner hearts, as the title says "sister of my heart". The girls are both fatherless as their fathers passed away in the same sad and mysterious accident right before the girls were born. The girls are raised by the "3 mothers" and eventually marry, which is complex in itself.
One of the things that I really liked about this book is the p
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and I go way back. She helps out as an on-stage interviewer for a great Houston-based reading series, Inprint. I was there when she was torn to shreds by Orhan Pamuk. I witnessed her redemption when her interview with friend, Amy Tan went more smoothly. Chitra is always smiling and approachable. She teaches creative writing at the University of Houston. I’ve heard her on the local NPR station. In short, she feels accessible to me.

Inprint flies in big name authors from
Mar 08, 2011 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-reads
Beautiful story of two cousins battling opposing forces while bonded by tragedy and torn apart by secrecy.

The girls, born in a time where individuality is stiffled by strict cultural tradition and social norms dictate much of one's being. American ideas of indpendence and education have creeped into conversations and linger as possiblity. Anju is in constant opposition of tradition. She longs for America and a college education. Sudha, born with exquisite beauty, her future remains unsure as sh
This book would make a great movie on the Lifetime network (and as I refuse to watch the Lifetime network, that's not saying much). However, Divakaruni has a beautiful writing style. Her color and sound imagery are fantastic and the descriptions are beautiful. I always imagine India to be overstimulating to the senses and this book kind of fits that expectation. The first half is tightly organized and the everything seems tied together with excellent character and plot development. In the second ...more
Oct 25, 2009 Feral rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved every minute of reading this book. I don't know why I didn't give it 5 stars? The language of the book lulled me deep into the story, which is of two girl children raised in the same family in Calcutta in current times. The book primarily explores the cataclysmic changes in the social mores of the upper class as it meets with modern times, but through the tender telling of the stories of these two young women and their love for each other. The language is that of a fable; the detail is r ...more
Lubi Lafdewali
Sep 20, 2011 Lubi Lafdewali rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After "Arranged Marriage" I picked this book to read. I was mesmerized by Chitra's ability to take me to a city I've never been to, where I could smell and taste and visualize and understand everything Bengali... a culture I've barely known personally.

Chitra's ladies in the book: Sudha & Anju are women that we will never forget. The strength of their relationship is awe-inspiring and it makes a loner like me want a sibling or a best friend of that calibre!

I have recently come into the poss
An emotional roller coster yet scrumptious read! If you love stories stepped in mythology ( in this case Bengali) in realistic settings this book might be for you. It's not if you hate complicated love triangles. I often don't, but I could not put this book down. Set in Calcutta, this novel follows the lives of two cousins who grew up together like sisters. It follows the trials and tribulations of first loves, arranged marriages, societies restrictions on women and ultimately individuals findin ...more
I started reading this book at 9 in the night and finished it by 6 in the morning. When I started reading this I thought that it would be another Bengali writer who has moved from Calcutta to India or his parents moved much earlier and they are still seeking roots. But this turned out to be a surprise. The best part of it was that 90% of the novel is set in India and it actually takes you through the growing up phase of two girls who were like sisters and how their lives intertwined no matter ho ...more
Apr 18, 2010 nat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: various-fiction
"Hanya kisahlah... yang bisa menghindarkan keturunan kita dari membuat kesalahan besar seperti pengemis-pengemis buta yang menabrak duri-duri pagar kaktus."
(Chinua Achebe, from Anthills of The Savannah)

Usai menyelesaikan sebuah buku dari India lagi. Dan ternyata ceritanya sangat indah, tidak mengharu biru seperti film2 india kebanyakan. Aku merasakan ketangguhan hati seorang wanita di sini.
Novel karangan Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni ini dituturkan dari 2 sudut pandang tokoh utamanya, yaitu Anjali
Wonderful, wonderful book! The best I've read all year, and probably since a long time, even from my go-to authors.
Divakaruni's prose is gorgeous without being ostentatious, flowing without bogging down, and imploring the readers to engage with the characters without trying to pull pity from them. The story is extremely well-written, and the narrator for the audiobook, Julia Whelan always wins me over with whatever she reads.
I recommend this book for anyone who wants a heartfelt story without t
Apr 11, 2016 angie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book despite its many flaws: over-the-top, flowery prose and dialogue with way too many ornate similes and metaphors; a relationship between two female cousins bordering on the unhealthy; and a melodramatic, somewhat predictable plot that often defies credulity. This coming of age story of two close privileged Indian cousins, Anju and Sudha, growing up in the same household in 90s Calcutta, is a few good step ups from a guilty pleasure. Sudha is the beautiful, kind and dreamy black ...more
Kisah-kisah macam ini yg membuat gw mudah jatuh cinta dengan sastra India. Mungkin bagi sebagian orang, tragedi yg dialami Anju dan Sudha bisa disandingkan dengan tragedi-tragedi ala sinetron kita. Namun, entah kenapa, menurut gw, tragedi dalam novel India jauh lebih "bermatabat" daripada itu (gw menyandingkan dengan Jarak di Antara Kita-nya Thrity Umrigar yg kurang lebih formulanya sama). Tradisi yg kuat mengakar dalam kehidupan masyarakat India, mitos-mitos yg dirajut, hari-hari yg dijalani yg ...more
Oct 30, 2015 Faten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow! Kudos to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni for such a powerful and charmingly worded novel. Everything about this book was perfect. I loved every bit of it and this year, I don’t think I’ve read another strongly written story (well, apart from The Forty Rules of Love that is). Sister of My Heart is a work of art. I couldn’t put it down till I finished it. Every incident feels like it is unfeigned, makes you feel sort of 'paralyzed' as the author describes the life of the two Indian women when they ...more
Beautifully written story of two women and love. Anju and Sudha are distantly related cousins who are raised as sisters. The chapters alternate the sisters' POV. In the early chapters when they were girls I did not find each girls voice distinct enough and I had a hard time keeping them straight. Perhaps that was intentional because as girls they were very, very close. After they got married and each set out on her own life, it was easier to keep straight who was telling the story.

Love in all it
Nabilah Firdaus
Three and a half stars. This is my first time reading this type of book - Indian literature genre. A worth reading because I got to know a lot of Hindu customs and their beliefs.

Divakaruni's writing style is so beautiful. It's very descriptive and the language used had sucked me deep into the story. The characters were fully developed and very engaging, I feel like I've known them for a long time. Anju's frankness and her fondness for knowledge and books, Sudha's shyness and patience, the whiny
Nov 09, 2015 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is actually the second novel I've read by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the first being The Conch Bearer which was part of my 9th Grade english curriculum. I don't remember much about that book, but I don't think I liked it all that much. That being said, Sister of My Heart is completely different in plot, characters, setting, and situation from The Conch Bearer. I think this is Divakaruni's comfort zone - where she can write about places, relationships, traditions, and myths that she's famil ...more
May 05, 2012 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! Kept me up late because I just had to see what would happen next. Some fun and unexpected plot twists at the end kept it interesting, and I could relate to the deep friendship between Sudha and Anju. I love books set in India, and this one did not disappoint.
Donna Bijas
Apr 02, 2016 Donna Bijas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two cousins, 3 mothers and a sketchy past. Story was great. Part fairy tale part modern day coming of age Women of India. Loved all the characters and the only reason it's 4 stars is the implausibility of some of the timing.
3.5 stars

Anju and Sudha are cousins, raised by their mothers and an aunt who live together (their fathers died when they were young). As they get older, one falls in love with someone else and the other wants to go to college, but they have arranged marriages that they must go through with. Although they each have their own “trials” to deal with, they are always there for each other.

I enjoyed this. It took me a little bit to get “into” it, and I had a hard time remembering who was who (I did ev
Mar 11, 2014 ☺Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and moving story about the complex relationship between two Indian cousins. Anju and Sudha. Anju can, at times, seem rather unlikeable - demanding, manipulative, and somewhat hot-headed & self-centered, but she is also intelligent, forward-thinking, and fiercely loyal to her beloved "sister of my heart" cousin Sudha. Beautiful Sudha is quiet, dutiful, and kind-hearted (yet she, like Anju, also possesses an amazing strength of character and a brave heart). I love the realistic ...more
From what the back cover of the book revealed I was hoping most of the book to be about deep dark family secrets. But, it didn't dig that deep into it and only revealed what was essential.

The bond between the sisters at the early age is understandable but as they get older it seems a bit obsessive.

It's hard to take seriously that they fall in love with people with one chance meeting and an exchange of eye glances. It's comical that Sudha's beauty is so powerful that it makes one man wait for he
Jul 10, 2016 Sacole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni wrote a very expressive novel that explores female friendships. Sister of My Heart centers around two Indian cousins, Anju, and Sudha, who grow together in a home with three mothers in Calcutta, India. The three mothers are Anju’s and Sudha’s birth mothers Gouri Ma and Nalini and their aunt, Pishi. Sudha and Anju have a sisterly bond between them. Both cousins are born the same day; both cousins get married the same day. Both women experience tragedies that allow them
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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. Her themes include the Indian experience, contemporary America, women, immigration, history, myth, and the joys and challenges of living in a multicultural world. Her work is widely known, as she has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 ant ...more
More about Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni...

Other Books in the Series

Anju and Sudha (2 books)
  • The Vine Of Desire (Anju and Sudha, #2)

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“That's how it is sometimes when we plunge into the depths of our lives. No one can accompany us, not even those who would give up their hearts for our happiness.” 46 likes
“Everytime i have turned the page he re-enters my life as awkward as postscript” 22 likes
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