As Sweet as Honey
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As Sweet as Honey

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  166 ratings  ·  46 reviews
In her latest novel, Indira Ganesan, a writer often likened to Arundhati Roy and Chitra Divakaruni (see back of jacket for reviews), gives us an enchanting story of family life that is a dance of love and grief and rebirth set on a gorgeous island in the Indian Ocean.

The island is filled with exotic flora and fauna and perfumed air. A large family compound is presided ove...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 12th 2013 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2013)
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This charming new novel is about a family from the Island of Pi, off South India. The author is from South India but lives in England. I'm counting this book for my 2013 challenge to read 12 books from 12 countries this year. The writing style is lovely, lucid and fluent, and the characters are completely endearing. As the members of this family deal with change in their lives and in the cultures they sample and sometimes embrace, traditions are challenged but the basic values of taking care of...more
This was a 3.5 star book for me.

My thoughts:
• The language is charming and captivating that draws the read in from the first page and holds your attention to the end.
• Storytelling is good, great pacing and transitions between the three parts.
• The characters are delightfully genuine and see the positive side of life through the ups and downs – always knowing family is a safe cocoon
• I enjoyed the young narrator, Mina, telling the first part as it introduces the characters in a loving supportiv...more
As Sweet As Honey by Indira Ganesa is the story of a family on and off the island of Pi in the Bay of Bengal. It is an unusual jewel of a book. It sparkles with humor, folklore of Pi, love and the voices of little children. There is also jealously, a ghost and desire to explore the western world.

Most of the story centers on Meterling. She is a very tall dark woman on the island of Pi who is engaged to a short, plump Englishman, Archer. Meterling is fascinated by western world and at the same fil...more
Amanda (Amanda's Weekly Zen)
“We glimpse such a small part of our lives. Imagine a paper clip attached to a piece of paper- or better yet, three pieces of paper. We pride ourselves on our organization, we congratulate ourselves on our innate wisdom, but in truth, all we ever know at one time is the area contained by the paper clip, while reams of paper reside in us.” (71)

The idea that our lives are so full and that we can only glimpse a few moments of our lives at a time is so enticing to think about, it is often the underl...more
Cynthia Morris
Disclaimer: Indira is a friend of mine.

Indira Ganesan's sweet novel starts out slowly, with an introduction to the large family who lives on the island of Pi. But don't worry about understanding who's who; soon enough we fall in love with the characters, especially the focal point of the novel, Aunt Meterling, whose fortune goes from good to bad and good again in a short time.

Cleverly narrated from the point of view of one of the nieces, we get to lie around the family estate witnessing Aunt M...more
This novel is told from the perspective of Mina as a young girl looking up (quite literally) to her very tall Aunt Meterling, when it should be Meterling telling the story. It doesn't quite make sense for Mina to be such an omnipotent narrator, and her disclaimer that she's making things up doesn't help. The plot felt slow and longer than necessary; I couldn't help but wonder if it would work better as a short story.
The first book that I tried in this Tamil+English genre was The Silent Raga by Ameen Merchant. It tried to pivot on the Tamil and Bombay connection, and to a certain degree it was alright, I guess, but it wasn't a mind opening experience, and neither was it flowery or a delight to read (from a plot or prose point of view).
There had been others, I later realized. For example: R. K. Narayan. His books were lucid and painted a barebones picture of southern India. His characters were affable and org...more
I liked the descriptions in this book. They were vivid, life-like, and made me want to be there. The characters were well developed, especially Meterling, Simon, Mina, Rasi, and Sanjay. I wanted to like Ms. Ganesan's writing style, but I just couldn't; I found it hard to get into and difficult to understand in some places. I also didn't like Mina narrating for her aunt. I felt like I never fully cared about Meterling; there was a disconnect there for me. By the end of the book I was a little bit...more
This was like reading a diary. A very boring diary. I got to page 134 before I shut the cover for good.
I felt like I was living a lovely dream while reading this book that takes a gentle look at love, traditions, and family. Set off the coast of India on the lush, imaginary island of Pi (short for Prospero’s Island according to some locals familiar with Shakespeare’s Tempest), the book’s story is narrated by Mina who is part of a large extended family all living under one roof.

Mina and her young cousins adore their Aunt Meterling. She’s too tall, too dark and too old to be unmarried, but in her...more
Before I chose this book to read, I had read comparisons on Goodreads that Ganesan's works compare to the likes of Arundhati Roy's -- so without a doubt, I had to see for myself if this was true. While I enjoyed most of the prose in this novel and understand why it fairs with Arundhati Roy's style in God Of Small Things (childhood perspective, poetic prose, ect.), I don't think that it is comparable entirely. I enjoyed the writing style but the plot was terribly lacking. I had expected something...more
The Lit Bitch
3.50 stars.

I think the South Asian culture is wildly interesting. I haven’t read anything from that region or on that culture so I thought the book sounded fascinating. The Indian/Hindi culture is so vivid and colorful and that aspect of the culture was really brought out in this book. I could practically smell the jasmine and feel the sun on my face….what a glorious place to grow up.

I thought the location shift in the novel provided richness to the plot that could not have been achieved in any...more
This is not the usual kind of book I read, but Random House was kind enough to give me a free review copy.

I found it to be a very well written, gentle read and did enjoy it. I personally wasn't very familiar with the culture of South Asia, but I felt the author did an excellent job of making it comprehensible to an outsider without over explaining. It was easy to become drawn into Meterling's world on Pi and understand the expectations that were on her as well as to understand the consequences h...more
Shonna Froebel
This novel is written in 3 sections. The first and third sections are narrated by Mina, and the second by Meterling. In the first section Marriage, Mina is telling the story of events when she was a girl from the vantage point of the future. Her home is the island of Pi in the South Indian Ocean. Her older cousin Meterling has recently got married, but the groom dropped dead during the wedding dance, a shocking and sad circumstance. As Meterling grieves and adjusts to her new situation, we see t...more
More like 3.5 stars. I found this book compulsively readable. It was sent to me to review for my honest opinion, so here goes... It reminded me of someone talking to the reader who has ADHD. Just when you think you are tracking with the story line, it goes off on another tangent. At the same time there were so many cultural elements, foods, and interpersonal issues in the book, I couldn't help being interested. Some of the cultural stuff I got a bit lost with (like the legends related to Indian...more
Mads P.
I really enjoyed reading this book and loved the characters and the settings. I wished the prose were a bit more descriptive. I guess I was hoping for something like an Arundhati Roy; this isn't on that level, but is still a good read.

A quote from the book that is true of the whole story:
"Meterling was like a rose that kept blooming, long after everyone thought it couldn’t bloom anymore. Unfurling like a flag, like a song, like joy, like love itself.” (p. 35) What a great summary for the main ch...more
Jeff Scott
Love takes many forms and Indira Ganesan counts the ways in As Sweet As Honey. Culture clashes, romantic notions of tradition, and unlikely romance drive this work. It is a love note both to the island of Pi, located just off the Indian coast, and Meterling, who represents all the notions of home and love. Ganesan weaves in classic English literature. To the Lighthouse starts each section and Jane Austen’s Persuasion are littered about the text. She uses these models to mirror the love one has f...more
A rather odd book that I think I gained a lot from reading, even if it wasn't always exciting.
Some thoughts:
Archer's ghost was a particularly interesting thread.
I liked the way the family talked with one another. One didn't always know who was talking, and the things they spoke of weren't always explained, but they all felt real.
Mina is the narrator, but she is not the main character, which I enjoy seeing. This leaves me wondering if these characters will appear again in later books, with a foc...more
This book took my breath away! I loved each page. So fantastic. Like a family reunion, people speaking over each other. I loved meeting each family member, seems like Meterling will become the main character, but sometimes you have to get the background first.

Ganesan writes with such passion and wove such a spell for me, I am still a bit under! I really love books like this. Love has a thousand shapes. Wow. (One of the quotes from the book.)

I love the mystic and suspense about this fantastic mys...more
A really sweet story about a close knit family living on the Island of Pi. It was an easy read and really enjoyed it!
Mel Raschke
Perfect beautiful read that life is as beautiful as honey
As Sweet as Honey by Indira Ganesan is an exquisitely written novel which takes the reader to the Island of Pi, which is located in the Bay of Bengal. Ganesan does an exceptional job not only with creating wonderfully drawn out characters, but also in fully engaging the reader. As Sweet as Honey captivated me from the very first page and I found myself not wanting to set the book down. Ganesan easily brings the reader into the story and does not let go. I highly recommend As Sweet as Honey to al...more
Lots of words yo look up but a fun read. Really enjoyed it
Beautiful read
A charming book about a family who lives on an island in the Indian Ocean - off the coast of India. Mina (the narrator) and her two cousins are intensely interested in the life of their Aunt Meterling. Meterling marries an Englishman who dies while dancing at the wedding with his bride. Meterling eventually marries the groom's cousin and goes to live in England with him and the son she conceived with her first husband.
Christine Roberts
This book was a great read! I really didn't know much of the India culture but this was a wealth of knowledge. The story was good, tragic and inspiring and love! The characters were well developed and interesting, the descriptions of places were fantastic. Perhaps I'll get to see the beauty of places like that! Would definitely recommend!!!
( was give a free copy for an honest review )
May 10, 2014 Ming marked it as unmoved-2-cont
what a peculiar book! the pace occurs in fits and starts. meanwhile the story, at least in the first 70 pages, had some intriguing and interesting elements (I really hoped for a change and tried to give it a chance). But ultimately, the jumpy/fidgety rhythm and lack of flow--and several bizarre sections of random scenes--have done this book in for me.
Apr 02, 2013 Pam rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Pam by: Jennifer
Shelves: 2013
This is a very sweet story about an India family living on the island of Pi. The story is told from the point of view of Mina, one of the younger cousins, and traces the marriage and subsequent life of one of the family's most beloved members, Meterling. A charming story of family, love and life itself.
In the first part of the book I kept wondering why the narrator was telling the story from her 10 year old self. Then I wondered why she was telling someone else's story. It seemed much of the story was for Meterling to tell. I kept having flashbacks to Dona Flor and her two husbands.
This was a wonderful book where the story was told in a bewitching manner that took me to another place. It is sweet, lyrical and sad. A book to enjoy like a bite of moist dark chocolate. Though it may be labeled as a romance it is much more than that. It is about life.
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Indira Ganesan's newest novel, As Sweet As Honey (NY: AlfredA. Knopf), was released in February, 2013. She is the author of Inheritance (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998) and The Journey (NY: Alfred A. Knopf,1990.) Her books are available in trade paper from Beacon Books, and have been translated into French, Japanese, Greek, and German.
More about Indira Ganesan...
Inheritance The Journey Nectar in a Sieve

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