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Leela's Book

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  174 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Bold and entertaining, Leela’s Book weaves a tale of contemporary Delhi that crosses religious and social boundaries. Leela—alluring, taciturn, haunted—is moving from New York back to Delhi, where her return will unsettle precariously balanced lives. Twenty-five years earlier, her sister was seduced by the egotistical Vyasa. Now an eminent Sanskrit scholar, Vyasa is prepar...more
Hardcover, 422 pages
Published January 9th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2011)
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Sherri Huntley
Leela's Book is a wonderful story of families which intertwines Indian mythology and the modern day complexities of life in Delhi. The tale of Leela and her sister Meera weaves through time until their final story is told. Throughout the novel, Albinia provides a detailed background of India, from the gritty slums and open sewers to the intoxicating smells of the gardens and family celebration of the upper class. She does an amazing job of drawing the reader into the story of two sisters, one ad...more
Ilyhana Kennedy
"Leela's Book" is quite a complex work. It has a huge cast of characters with their various interconnected relationships. Additionally the characters mirror the roles in an epic Indian mythology. So there's a lot to hold in the mind whilst reading.
I found the interweaving of mythology and the current reality a rather beautiful ploy. Reflection mirrors back on reflection with the unknown writer of the mythological story in parallel with an unknown writer of the story of this book.
It's very well w...more
Leah
This book is an intricately woven tale that spans continents, cultures, and lifetimes. The characters are so enmeshed in each others' lives that not even reincarnation can separate them for long. Leela Sharma finds that out when she finds herself returning to India after decades away, decades of avoiding the memories of Meera, her dead poet sister; Vyasa, her arrogant manipulator of a brother-in-law; or twins Bharati and Ash, the niece and nephew she hasn’t seen since they were babies.

But just b...more
Jennie
When I won this on Goodreads I was pretty thrilled. It sounds like a story I would love – epic tales, love, deception, and secrets kept over generations. I really, really wanted to love it and I tried very hard to do just that. About halfway through I decided that I wanted to like it (giving up on loving it) but when I finished the last page it was not meant to be.

Part of my issues with the story is how it was narrated. The story starts normal enough but then a few chapters in suddenly the narra...more
Patricia
The author has an interesting literary device - the elephant headed god, Ganesh, is her deux ex machina and sometime narrator. Leela's book is chock full of references to the Mahabarata, to Indian culture, high and low, and to academic society. Academic infighting and cocktail party conversations appear to be the same, whether you are in Delhi, Cambridge, or I daresay, New Haven. Alexander McCall Smith would enjoy Albinia's book greatly. I read The Paris Wife in tandem with this and found Leela...more
Manuhuia Barcham
This is a great book! At the end I couldn't put it down. That said, it took me a while to get into the book. The narrative jumps around quite a bit, and although you get used to this as you read - it's utility as a narrative device is somewhat suspect ie it's a bit confusing. Interesting - but confusing.

Nonetheless 'Leela's Book' is a wonderful tale of human lives, woven together masterfully - although I still don't understand how some of the threads wove together - especially (without wanting...more
Tariq Mahmood
I loved this book right from the start till it's exciting finish. The story kept me engaged and and the plot captivated till the very last page. In a relatively short book Alice has managed to provide great insight into the complex diverse culture of modern urban India. The characters were well crafted and represented. The religious and class frictions were exposed well as well which was very refreshing when you consider that the author is English. Though sometimes she left clues of her English...more
Bsal
Jan 30, 2014 Bsal rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
I like the intertwining of the God Ganesh and reincarnation of two characters - weaving it through to the revelation of the truth from the past.
Joe
I initially didn't like this book, but as the story developed it became much more interesting and entertaining. I'm not sure if I agree that the characters in the story were strong or had many attributes that were worth emulating, but the twists were somewhat surprising and I enjoyed it at the end. I do think the author managed to capture a few of the aspects of inter-religious conflict and interaction that seems to pervade South Asia, as well as the rest of the world.
Jessica Buike
I tried, but I just couldn't get into this book. Perhaps it was too wide of a cultural barrier, but nothing really grabbed me and made me want to continue reading it. When it switched to the point of view of the god, it just got too weird and confusing for me to continue any further. Not my style, but perhaps if you like Hindu literature you might understand it better and therefore be able to enjoy it.
Amy
A timeless soap opera, set in modern Delhi. Great characters, wedding drama, clashes over ideology and class, great descriptions of Delhi. Mythological Ghanesh, remover of obstacles, narrates three interludes. Otherwise each chapter picks up with a different person's viewpoint. Lovely writing--an old-fashioned style. I loved this and really would give it 4.5 stars.
Pauline
I love everything India related but this book was not my cup of tea.It looks like from the reviews I read ,people either loved it or hated it.I liked it enough to finish it but it was not enjoyable.I hated the Ganesh narrated parts and felt some of the story lines were left unresolved (like between Sunita and Ram)which I generally don't like.
Diane
Written in the style of an Indian epic, this book is mainly a family saga set in contemporary India. However, it borrows ideas from ancient Indian folklore. Although I'm not a scholar of Indian literature, I thought the writing for the most part remained true to the original. The author also had an engaging, although unusual, style.
Jenny
well written, great characters and highly enjoyable book. I recommend this book to anyone who has lived in India and anyone who wants a glimpse into the workings of Indian families.
Ann
I loved this book! Some mystery, some exotic settings, interesting plot, good characters. I want all my friends to read it. The men may not like it since some of the male characters are egotistical & not likeable.
Jorie
This was good but it takes a little while to get into. There are a lot of intricate characters who all come together in the end and she does a great job of naviagating all of the different points of view.
Karen Klein
Really enjoyed this and will be looking forward to reading more from this author. The only thing that I had a problem with while reading was keeping the characters and families straight!
Andrea
This was a good book if you can read for at least 45 minutes. It has a lot of characters and if your like me and only have 15 minutes here and there it is difficult to keep up.
Cheryl Cufari
Set in India, characters twist in and around each other as the story weaves and progresses. A powerful story of love, hate, greed, sacrifice, and humanness - very powerful.
Supriya
Unusual juxtaposition of supernatural and everyday characters built around a short legend in the Mahabharata- well developed plot and reads well for a first novel
Amma
I wanted to love this book but I just like it. Unfortunately-the book dragged after Part one. So much potential but it was to long and drawn out.
Allison
Fascinating story about family, relationships, and Indian culture & religion. Beautifully written, bittersweet and truly engaging.
Bish S
Surprised by the knowledge of the Indian culture demonstrated by the author but the book itself was too rambling to be very enjoyable.
Sunita
Skillful weaving of mythological into the present. Brings a deep understanding of Indian culture. Great read- was hooked throughtout.
Gopal MS
I should have re-read her earlier book. This book showed moments of hope and then....

I hope she goes back to non fiction.
Tyra
Jun 03, 2012 Tyra marked it as gave-up-on
This wasn't for me. I found it confusing and it never called at me to pick it up and read it so it will go back to the library.
Loquemeahorro
Buena novela, solo le pondría un pero: el final es algo precipitado y deja sin cerrar algunos hilos importantes.
Kimberly
Very well-written book about India. Follows the story of Ganesh and his cast of characters in present day.
Marsha
I loved this book. Neatly embroidered characters, unpredictable plot, culturally rich, brilliant.
Nick
I loved this book, especially the interplay between epic past and modern India.
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1422064
Alice Albinia read English Literature at Cambridge University. After graduating, she moved to Delhi, where she worked for the next two a half years as a journalist and editor for the Centre for Science & Environment, Biblio: A Review of Books, Outlook Traveller, and several other Indian newspapers and magazines.

It was during this time, as she travelled around the country writing articles and f...more
More about Alice Albinia...
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