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Invisible Lives

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  546 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
From the acclaimed author of Imaginary Men comes an enchanting new novel about a young woman with an uncanny ability to see deep into every heart but her own. Lakshmi Sen was born with a magical ability to perceive the secret longings in others. Putting aside her own dreams to help run her widowed mother's struggling Seattle sari shop, Mystic Elegance, Lakshmi knows exactl ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Downtown Press
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(showing 1-30)
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Jun 26, 2009 Regan rated it liked it
INVISIBLE LIVES is a sweet and sort of predictable read in that chick-lit way, but the Indian and paranormal twists make it good fun and add a unique element to the more predictable parts of the story.

Lakshmi is a powerful and memorable character, and her story is a fun, fast-paced read. The story is quite well-written, and Lakshmi's extra abilities are approached very interestingly, as just a part of who she is rather than the entire story. It's an excellent book, but it does lack a bit of a sp
May 06, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was ok
Shelves: romance
Rats. This was a book I really, really wanted to like. As a friend remarked, the bones of the book were really good, it just didn't have the flesh.

Lakshmi's beauty was part of the theme of invisible lives, but it was remarked upon on almost every other page, which got old quickly. Plus, it took away from exploring the invisible lives of the other characters. there was also a little about Lakshmi's conflict between the man she wanted and the man her parents (and her culture) expected her to have.
I really wanted this book to be good. I was looking forward to reading a romance novel featuring an Indian-American heroine for a change, since non-white protagonists are so underrepresented in the genre. But while some of the references to Indian culture and the descriptions of the saris in Lakshmi's shop were interesting, as a whole, this book was a huge disappointment for me. The story was just too simplistic, the writing style was too bland, and the characters were too flat and uninteresting ...more
Jun 28, 2013 Christy rated it liked it
Kind of interesting but lacked a believable romance. I enjoyed the sari shop setting but I was really annoyed at how often characters were shrieking or screeching at each other. Nick was a complete cipher of a person, except for having a great family in contrast to her previous boyfriend's family who could never have accepted an Indian. I found it odd that the sari shop was supposedly doing poorly yet they were able to travel back and forth to India with no apparent concern. Many other jarring d ...more
Apr 05, 2009 Michele rated it did not like it
This book was boring. It was predictable and I really wasn't crazy about the writing. For example, the main character is supposed to be beautiful. Well, in every other sentence the author wrote how pretty she was, she is so stunning, she is so gorgeous, she created car accidents because of her beauty....OK I GET IT SHE IS BEAUTIFUL. It was a bit ridiculous!
Erin (PT)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 12, 2014 Sabine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Schon im Bauch ihrer Mutter wurde Lakshmi von der Göttin prophezeit, dass sie eine besondere Gabe haben wird, dafür sagt sie ihr aber auch, dass der Weg zur wahren Liebe für sie steinig und lang sein wird. Mit fast 28 Jahren lebt Lakshmi mit ihrer Mutter in Seattle und führt einen Laden für Saris. Durch ihre besondere Gabe, kann sie die Sehnsüchte und Wünsche ihrer Kundinnen sehen und hat darum für alle Lebenslagen immer den passenden Sari zur Hand. Ihre Mutter sorgt sich währenddessen, den rich ...more
Sep 23, 2009 Sara rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sara by: Gwen
3.5 stars. Cute chick lit story with an Indian flavor. Lakshmi is an Indian girl in her twenties who works at her mom's sari shop in Seattle and is under intense pressure to get married and have babies. She's gorgeous but wears prescription-less glasses to hide her beauty, and she has the ability to "see" the thoughts and desires of others in her vicinity, which makes her very skilled at picking the perfect saris for others. Her mom arranges for Lakshmi to become engaged to a guy in India, but t ...more
Susan Oleksiw
Sep 08, 2013 Susan Oleksiw rated it really liked it
This is a light, frothy book meant to entertain, and it does. Lakshmi Sen works with her mother in their sari shop in Seattle. Lakshmi has a special talent she calls "knowing," an ability to select exactly the right sari to help a customer through a rough patch or set things right in her life. It's an uncanny knack that suddenly flees her when Asha, the famous and glamorous movie star, enters her shop with her driver, Nick, as all-American as a man can be. He is, of course, young, handsome, and ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jocelyn Pearce for

INVISIBLE LIVES is a sweet and sort of predictable read in that chick-lit way, but the Indian and paranormal twists make it good fun and add a unique element to the more predictable parts of the story.

Lakshmi Sen is a young Indian woman in Seattle with an odd ability to read people's emotions. She physically sees them (this is the supernatural part of the story but it is not addressed as supernatural--the story is not about explaining this ability)
Jan 05, 2012 Susy rated it really liked it
After the raw & emotional story of Little Bee, I needed something lighthearted to read, & this novel fit the bill. I love stories about East Indian culture whether they are set in India or here in America with the cultural adaptations that must be made by the Indian immigrant families. This is the story of a very bright and attractive young woman who gives up a promising banking career to return to Seattle to help her widowed mother run a sari shop. Lakshmi, our heroine, has a magical ab ...more
Apr 19, 2010 GoldenjoyBazyll rated it really liked it
Shelves: asian-indian

OK so whaty is not to ove! You have a woman named Lakshmi (goddess of preosperity) who has a very magical ability- sh can feel peoples emotions and know their secret desires. Would I love to be able to do that! If I could I promise I would use my ability for good and never evil- witches honor! Anyhow- she owns a sari shop with her mom. She comes back from NY to run it after her dad passes away. Anyhow.... because she knows how to steer people towards their happnss she is succes
Jen B
Jun 22, 2009 Jen B rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010
2.5 stars I can't say I loved this one too much. The concept was interesting -- Lakshmi has a "gift" of being able to read peoples' emotions and feelings, which helps her to choose the perfect saris for them. However, the writing was just so-so, and the ending of the book felt so rushed and neatly-wrapped that instead of feeling satisfied I was left wondering, "that's it?" Living in an area of the country with a large Indian population, I'm intrigued by Indian culture, so I enjoyed reading about ...more
May 11, 2007 Carly rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those w/interest in chick lit or Indian American fiction
I am so sorry to give this book 2 stars, because I love love love Anjali Banerjee, and I think everyone should read her books.... just not this one. Imaginary Men was leaps and bounds better, and Maya Running was even better than that. This book isn't bad, not by any definition, and in fact parts of it are better and more interesting than Imaginary Men (I loved the sari shop and the sari talk, for instance), but largely it's just hugely predictable with a bland ending and a tepid cast of charact ...more
Aug 05, 2007 Nancy rated it liked it
Invisible lives is a very sweet book. Unfortunately, there is not much else to it. Although the scenes are the sari shop are very interesting, I couldn't find myself enjoying the romantic plot lines, which were the bulk of the book. The writing had an attractive, dreamy quality to it but I just didn't find many of the characters to be that interesting. Invisible Lives is a very average book, but I wanted it to be more. Perhaps people that are a little more into chick lit-esque books (I tend to b ...more
Jan 13, 2011 Cher rated it liked it
Fun, easy read that was completely different than anything I've read before despite being hugely predictable. I enjoyed the relationship between Lakshmi and her mother and especially enjoyed reading about their sari shop. It was great to have insight into the minds of those around Lakshmi which made for a unique story concept. The Indian culture of Lakshmi’s mother and father is something that Lakshmi balances with the American culture in which she has been raised. As far as “love stories” go, t ...more
Jan 11, 2010 Melissa rated it liked it
I thought the introduction into the Indian (middle eastern India) lifestyle and ageless traditions was neat. The boy-meets-girl-then-they-fall-in-love happened too fast, so I didn't really feel like their relationship had any time to blossom or deepen. But overall, thought it to be a interesting easy read. Oh, forgot to mention that I didn't like the author's writing style, it was like she wrote the entire book in present tense or something - just different.
Shreeja Keyal Kanoria
the book was an ok read....
i kinda guessed some stuff which were to be revealed later...
i really have to give my mind a break when i read...
the saree shop....and the whole finding a perfect saree mystique gift...with visions...was charming.....
it went a level deeper to express feelings with visions and flashes...almost like seeing instinct....

....heard that her first book's better-gotta read it
Kate Copeseeley
May 29, 2008 Kate Copeseeley rated it liked it
I really liked the premise and the characters in this book. I would have rated it higher if it hadn't felt so rushed as I was reading it. The book moved too fast and reached a conclusion just as I was really getting into it. Very disappointing. It's rare that I say a book needs more pages, but this one truly did.
Delie Dell Chua
Aug 02, 2016 Delie Dell Chua rated it liked it
Indian girl living in the united states with her mom, gifted with sixth sense. She owns a sari shop and she can find the perfect sari for anyone.

I find the novel very idealistic. Call me without a romantic bone in my body, but im not happy with the ending. Instead of ending up with ravi, a childhood family friend, the heroine ended up with nick- because its love at first sight....

Dec 24, 2007 Brimate rated it really liked it
This was an effortless, quick, enjoyable, whimsical read, with some beutiful and witty flourishes. It reminds me of The Mistress of Spices. It's neat that the story takes place in the Northwest, so I can picture some of the sights and get the feel and atmosphere of the setting. The book has neat parallels with my life: main character is 27 and is from the Northwest.

Very nice story.
Apr 17, 2012 Robbin rated it it was amazing
Really, really nice tale about a young intuitive Indian woman who uses her gift to choose saris that will brighten other women's day. More importantly, this story also explores arranged marriage verus love at first sight and love in general as told through the eyes of two generations. Very lovely story and an equally quick read. Love this author's work.
Jan 02, 2013 Sashi rated it it was ok
This was like an insipid Mills and Boon romance, only its called cultural literature if the story deals with ethnic life. Nice, but if it were not an East Indian author, I wouldn't have read it. Seattle, saree shop, educated girl helping out her mom, falling in love with an American body guard, kinda boring and tedious.
Feb 24, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
The third book for the NDC pageturners book club. I actually enjoyed it but only gave it two stars for its simplicity. It took me only a few hours to read and the plot was pretty basic. I kept looking for a clue that it was a young adult book but never found it. A good glimpse at the American-Indian culture clash but fell a little short in terms of complexity.
Nice read but forgettable. Has too many similarities with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's The Mistress of Spices.
Jan 27, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I have read all of Anjali Banerjee's books. This was one of my favorites. It was a cute story of a woman with a hyper sense of awareness when it comes to other people's desires, almost like a third eye. In the midst of owning a sari shop with her mother, she is searching for the right suitor.
Aug 18, 2014 Alison rated it really liked it
Shelves: india, magical
A fun chick lit book about Lakshmi named after (the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual.) She and her widowed mother run a sari shop in Seattle, where Lakshmi's ability to perceive the secret longing in others, makes her very popular with the Indian community.
Apr 03, 2008 Fchang added it
Lots of it takes place right here in the Seattle/Bellevue area. I loved how significant the saris were to the wearers at an emotional level. The ending was a bit too upbeat but you saw it coming and it's still a nice read.
May 08, 2013 Roz rated it it was ok
Slightly interesting when the story began, but faltered mid-way. I had to force myself to finish the book. Well, I'll be honest, I did end up skimming the remaining last few chapters.

It was an okay one time read only.
Jan 22, 2010 Bethany rated it liked it
This was a light hearted look at an young Indian woman in Seattle and how she learns to balance the weight of custom and culture against the desires of her heart. I really enjoyed being in the head of the main character and getting a glimpse of another culture.
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South Asian Liter...: Invisible Lives by Anjali Bannerjee 10 24 Sep 25, 2013 04:16AM  
  • For Matrimonial Purposes
  • Song of the Cuckoo Bird
  • Haunting Bombay
  • Mistress
  • The Forbidden Daughter
  • If You Are Afraid of Heights
  • Tamarind Woman
  • Bollywood Confidential
  • Bitter Sweets
  • The Hindi-Bindi Club
  • Desirable Daughters
  • In the Convent of Little Flowers: Stories
  • Madras On Rainy Days
  • The Red Carpet: Bangalore Stories
  • Red Earth and Pouring Rain
  • Love Marriage
  • Story-Wallah: Short Fiction from South Asian Writers
  • One Hundred Shades of White
I was born in India, raised in Canada and California, and I now live in the Pacific Northwest, in a cottage in the woods, with my husband and five rescued cats.

I've always loved to write. When I was seven, I penned my first story about an abandoned puppy on a beach in Bengal. Then, inspired by my maternal grandmother—an English writer who lived in India—I wrote a mystery, The Green Secret, at the
More about Anjali Banerjee...

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