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Desirable Daughters

3.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,396 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
In the tradition of the Joy Luck Club, Bharati Mukherjee has written a remarkable novel that is both the portrait of a traditional Brahmin Indian family and a contemporary American story of a woman who has in many ways broken with tradition but still remains tied to her native country.

Mukherjee follows the diverging paths taken by three extraordinary Calcutta-born sisters

Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 12th 2003 by Hachette Books (first published January 1st 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 12, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
Why I picked this book up, I couldn't tell you, but after getting through the first portions, it seemed to pick up steam and I liked it more than I would have thought. I enjoyed the gossipy commentary on family and immigrant life, especially on ones who went against the prescribed grain of Indian expectations, but never so far away that there was a total loss of identity. The book is about uncovered truths---ones hidden, others buried deep inside, some menacing, and of gradual uncovering. Some o ...more
Beata Bowen
Sep 17, 2009 Beata Bowen rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, 2009
As fascinating as I find the Indian subcontinent and as much as I want to learn the differences between the cultures, languages and religions of India, reading this book was mostly just frustrating.

Not sure if it's just the fact that the book focuses on the woes of the Bengali elite (ouch, my gold necklace is so heavy, I think I'm developing scoliosis!) or that the heroine of the story never manages to grow a spine (and yet she's suppose to be this independent, modern woman!) or all these surro
Aug 18, 2009 Karlan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult
Another fascinating novel involving the lives of immigrants to the US. In this case, 3 daughters grew up in Calcutta where their beauty was praised and where they attended excellent schools. Years later, the youngest is a divorced single mother in CA whose life changes drastically when a conman approaches her and proves to be very dangerous. The exciting plot keeps leaping ahead while one also learns about different ways of thinking for Indians. A terrific book.
Naheed Hassan
Desirable Daughters is primarily the story of Tara Lata, one of three sisters and the namesake of an ancient grand-aunt who became a Tree Bride. The story is slow to progress and doesn't really have much of a plot. What it does do, is paint a fascinating picture of Brahmin elitist life in Calcutta, the bhadralok as they are known. We get a glimpse of a lost time, an age of protected innocence where a 'Loreto school girl' epitomized class and culture and groomed to become a good wife. The story d ...more
Stef Rozitis
I felt keen to learn something about Indian culture and themes, and I tried to argue myself into trying harder to connect with these charcters than I would usually do, to assume my disjunction with them might stem from a "lost in translation" experience. But no, I actually think I found them unrelatable because they were so very rich and casually/blindly privileged. For all that Tara refers to her wealth multiple time in a semi-apologetic way (and she comes across as a semi-apologetic doormat in ...more
Mar 12, 2011 Imas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: karya-perempuan
Kisah dimulai dgn acara pernikahan Tara Lata gadis kecil berusia 5 tahun yg akan dinikahkan dgn seorg pria muda berumur 13 thn.Kemegahan upacara menjd hancur saat kapal yg ditumpangi mempelai pria batal mendarat krn sang mempelai telah dijemput maut melalui gigitan ular dikapal yg ditumpangi.Ternyata upacara pernikahan di India saat itu jg hrs diiringi doa2 agar mempelai tdk dipatuk ular yg dianggap sbg penjelmaan dewi Manasha,penguasa ular kobra diBenggala Timur.Dia akan selalu menemukan cara u ...more
Apr 15, 2008 Marci rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 10, 2013 Nalini rated it it was amazing
This book had me at the first page. I consider myself to be one with my culture, so when this book came as a recommendation I immediately got into it.

What Mukherjee did was to transpose values of old into her story to create a perspective that went deeper than the words on her pages. She hit on some pertinent aspects of Indian culture and provided the consequences of what would happen when questions go unanswered.

The story is a tale of three sisters, whose lives, though separate and different,
Apr 16, 2015 Alka rated it really liked it
it was quite good but it could have been promised a lot, great premise, good start but somewhere became is very middle-class Indian in its sensibilities and captures the typical mindset very aptly
Jan 27, 2012 Anisah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The beginning of the book was no where near intriguing honestly have no idea what the introduction had any symbolic connection to the rest of the book it was like a waste of a chapter. The middle was a bit interesting except when she flew into details and I totally lost my focus, and the words aren't clear with whats going on and whats happening. I didn't like how they were trying to assimilate into America they made it seem impossible like they did not belong and I must say that is sooooo untru ...more
Jyoti Joshi
Jun 04, 2015 Jyoti Joshi rated it liked it
When I read the Title of the Novel , I thought its a book like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, giving an account of life of three desirable daughters, more to do with finding suitable boys for them. but it turned out to be different then what I had perceived. The book begins with The beginning of the Tree brides life, its quite impressive. You kind of get drenched into it. But the story moves from it, and comes to early 90s. It follows the life of the protagonist, a women married to a big sh ...more
Sundarraj Kaushik
On the face of it, it appears to be another finding the roots book, but in actuality it is a book about the lives of three girls from the bhadralok of Calcutta. The book describes how the life of the three girls, brought up in a traditional Bengali Brahmin life style, but sent to a convent school for their education turns out to be completely different from each other.
Each one is trying to hide the truth from the other as a result of the upbringing which sees many of the things they desire and h
May 07, 2009 Kathleen rated it did not like it
This book was annoying to read. I kept waiting for some sort of climax or turning point and was disappointed. I really didn't even like the main character I found her annoying and odd.
Valencia Quarles Shelby
May 05, 2015 Valencia Quarles Shelby rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: If you love Jhumpa Lahiri novels, then you'll love this book.
I really enjoyed the book. However, it does present a bit of a cliffhanger ending. I have questions!!!!!!

Bharati Mukherjee does an awesome job of making the reader interested in the characters. Even more importantly, I enjoy the fact that she introduces issues that can potentially divide the family. However, after having read this work, I would like to know more-the ending will definitely leave you wanting to know how things turned out for everyone. Hopefully, there is a sequel to this novel.

Elaine Kessler
Jul 03, 2015 Elaine Kessler rated it liked it
I've long loved Mukherjee's writings and this one swept me up into it in a matter of minutes. The careful descriptions were sometimes tedious and felt a bit heavy handed but the story was enticingly scandalous and deliciously mysterious.

While I feel unsettled, looking for more text on pages that don't exist, I think this was the intent. I was pulled in to the fleeting, and often suspicious, stability of the protagonist's sense of self. The push, the pull, the lull of language, food, history, asp
It's an interesting book. Sometimes I felt like an outsider - not getting the in jokes, as I am neither Bengali, nor even Indian. I felt that some parts in the beginning were more drawn out, and then the action sped up and then fell away again, as though one rides through countryside, to a small town that you pass through quickly and then fades into long unchanging countryside again.

I did not feel I could relate well to the main character because while I believe she was as honest as she could be
Jul 09, 2013 Arti rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Desirable daughters by Bharati Mukherjee is a story of three sisters from an upper class Brahmin Calcutta family, Padma, Parvati and Tara born on the same date three years apart from each other. They are convent educated, beautiful, intelligent and wealthy.

The book starts with a chapter about Tara Lata who became a tree bride in 1879, stayed at her father's house and cared for the poor, sick and later the Indian freedom fighters and dies for the cause.

Padma, the eldest, stays in New Jersey with
Sep 16, 2009 Ririenz rated it liked it
Shelves: sastra-sosial
Bharati Mukeherjee
Penerjemah : Anton Kurnia
Penyunting : Rahmat Widada
Penerbit : Bentang
Cetakan : Cetakan Pertama, Agustus 2008
Halaman : 442 halaman

Cerita dalam novel ini diawali dengan kisah (legenda) tentang Pengantin Pohon, bernama Tara Lata Gongooly. Dan (sepertinya) oleh orang tuanya Sang Narrator dinamakan sesuai dengan nama nenek moyangnya itu, Tara Chatterjee. Tara adalah bungsu dari tiga bersaudara; Padma, Parvati dan Tara yang terkenal di Calcutta karena selain rupa m
Feb 19, 2009 Jenna rated it liked it
I have previously read "Wife" and "Jasmine" by the same author. All three books are concerned with the same subject: Living between two worlds, but not being at home in either of them.

If "Wife" and "Jasmine" were about the recent immigrant to the United States trying to assimilate, then "Desirable Daughters" is about an immigrant who found success and the American Dream, but feels that she has lost something irreplaceable in the pursuit of that desire.

The heroines of all these books are extraor
Sep 26, 2010 Amelia rated it liked it
I read this book on a recommendation from a friend who knows how much I love Asian literature. But, even though I'm not an Indian fiction novice, I still found myself on the outskirts of this very private Brahmin lifestyle described by the author. I'm not sure if it's because of the affinity towards poetry by the main character's caste, but I found details a little fuzzy around the edges - like a cloud you're trying to make the shape of, or a wave you see approaching the shore that's definitely ...more
Jul 03, 2013 Kaitlin rated it it was ok
I gave this book two stars because there were like 40 pages towards the end that were really interesting and worth reading. The rest of it....I don't know what to say. I found the protagonist neither likable nor relatable. The author spent what seemed like EONS on the protagonist's feelings about things that eventually meant basically nothing in the plot. It seemed like nothing was connected. Nothing fit together. There didn't seem to be an overall message. Every time I could ALMOST detect a the ...more
This book is sorta bizarre with all of its subplots and unconventional characters. Part of me thinks that there was just too much going on, and then another part of me kinda enjoyed that. I started this book expecting it to be another cultural/generational gap, traditional expectations not met kind of book. It definitely has those elements in it, but there's so much more. Bombay gangs and people who may or may not be who they say they are! I guess my only complaint is that , with so much going o ...more
Kathleen McRae
Oct 20, 2014 Kathleen McRae rated it it was amazing
Excellent! This book covered Indian history,culture,class, and politics.I liked that it was not rooted in the injustices in India although they were there but it started with the diaspora out of India to Silicon Valley and London and worldwide the elites of India became the elites of the new growing tech world.I liked as well that this story was a woman's story.
I kept reading to see if there was some resolution to all the drama that Tara kept experiencing but didn't really get one. I thought it odd that her boyfriend just walked out on her because she was concerned about her safety. Her family just couldn't seem to give her a straight answer for any question she asked. I just lost interest by the end.
Isla McKetta
Mar 18, 2015 Isla McKetta rated it really liked it
I started reading this book for fun, because the story of sisters and secrets seemed intriguing and light. I kept reading because of the gorgeously nuanced look at the interplay between a wide variety of Indian cultures and how the diaspora does and does not change that. A smart and fun read (a much too rare combination).
Aug 25, 2015 Jagruti rated it it was ok
A really slow and painful read. I couldn't understand the plot of the story. I was shocked to see that as the title suggests there is no real story going about with the three sisters. It picks up in the middle but then I was lost again at the end. I'm glad I got it from the library.
Jun 03, 2016 Audrey rated it it was amazing
I had a hard time getting started with this book but I really got caught up in it. This is the story of three sisters who , as adult women must figure out their identity as women and as citizens of both the United States and India. Good character development.
Feb 27, 2016 Judy rated it it was ok
Shelves: novel
Confusing plot lines, references, and chronology; scenes that went on too long; and a preface that was all in italics, which was very distracting. Some interesting descriptions of upper-class life in India and then in the U.S., but not much else to recommend it.
Mar 02, 2016 Ann rated it it was amazing
Loved this one. It tells the tale of an Indian divorcee living in San Francisco who receives a visit from a mysterious man claiming to be related to her. We travel back in time to Tara's childhood in Calcutta and forward to the near past and present. A fascinating snapshot of upper class Bengali life both in India and California.
This story is about three affluent Indian sisters. Two live in America and the other lives in a very wealthy coastal community in India. A secret from one of the sister's past is revealed and it shatters the superficial relationships they have with each other.
This book could have benefited from some footnotes to help the various references to Indian words. While the book gives a glimpse into what it's like to be an upper caste Indian in America, it doesn't delve too deeply into issues of cultur
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Bharati Mukherjee is an award-winning Indian born American writer. She is currently a professor in the department of English at the University of California, Berkeley.

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“One time you mentioned the loneliness inside of marriage and I did not understand what you were saying. Two people are together; they have come from the same place; they share the same values, the same language. Practically speaking, they are the two halves of one consciousness. They eat the same food; they have a child; they sleep in the same bed, how can they be lonely.” 12 likes
“The divorced Indian lady combines every fantasy about the liberated, wicked Western woman with the safety net of basic submissive familiarity.” 3 likes
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