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Sister of My Heart

(Anju and Sudha #1)

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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  17,448 ratings  ·  1,433 reviews
Anju is the daughter of an upper-caste Calcutta family; her cousin Sudha is the daughter of the black sheep of the family. Sudha is as beautiful, tenderhearted, and serious as Anju is plain, whip-smart, and defiant. yet since the day they were born, Sudha and Anju have been bonded in ways even their mothers cannot comprehend.

The cousins' bond is shattered, however, when
...more
Paperback, 322 pages
Published 2000 by Anchor (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  17,448 ratings  ·  1,433 reviews


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Nadiah
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Deb
Mar 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Laura
Feb 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
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, and...best of all...secret dramas! I loved the complicated relationship ...more
Pankaj Giri
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finally I finished this gem of a novel today. But as I trod the final steps of this illuminating journey, I felt a pang of sadness. But then a thought struck me. You can read it again, stupid!

I came to know about Chitra Banerjee Divakurani ma'am in a Goodreads group. I went through her books and found 'Sister of My Heart' tugging at my hungry mind. I relented. As I plunged into the novel, within the first few pages I knew—this was going to be a wonderful read.

Before I knew it, I found myself
...more
Ajay Pradhan
May 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Shreya Vaid
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Out of all the books that trickle down the Fictional area from Indian writers, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni always strikes out, thanks to her writing a mix of Indian and western stories, combining together to form magic. This weekend I picked Sister of My Heart to soothe my soul and my, it was magical! Two sisters, born out of family calamities, sharing a unique bond by beating distance, bad relatives, and society.

Sister of My Heart revolves around Anju and Sudha, born in the same household in
...more
Kathryn
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
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Bettie
Dedication:

For those who told me stories
and those to whom
I tell them now<,
my grandfather, Nibaran Chandra Ghosh
my mother, Tatini Banerjee
and
my three men, Murthy, Anand and Abhay


Acknowledgements

Opening quote:

It is only the story... that saves our progeny
from blundering like blind beggars into the
spikes of the cactus fence
Chinua Achebe 'Anthills of the Savannah'

Opening:

BOOK ONE
THE PRINCESS IN THE PALACE OF SNAKES

One
SUDHA

They say in the old tales that the first night after a child is born, the
...more
Alena
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very engaging story of the bonds that unite two Indian girls through childhood, marriage and motherhood. Secrets and misunderstandings keep things interesting and the author does a great job of evoking the setting at the start.

A very pleasant read.
Lynn
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Donna
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the second book that I've read by this author. I liked this one. The author does relationships well and that was such a strength here. The dialogue is also natural and authentic.

The story is about two girls raised together in the same house that their mothers share. It is more than a coming of age story as they grow up and find their way in their culture, their family roles and as friends. The story was engaging and so was the prose. It was quite gorgeous. There were some cliches too,
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robin friedman
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Judging And Loving

"Sister of My Heart" is a novel about an upper-caste family in Calcutta, India, the Chaterjees, and about two women Sudha, a striking beauty and Anju, relatively plain but intelligent and curious. The two share the same birthday and grow up together. Indeed they are inseparable and prefer each others company to the exclusion of others. They grow up in a society of women (the "mothers") who try unsuccessfully to provide to them a life sheltered from modernity and its woes.
...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
I picked this up at the library book sale last year. I had heard good things about it and for 50 cents, why not? Well, let me just say it was worth all of that 50 cents, but not a penny more. The prose is good enough - at least it didn't bore me to tears and having me throw it against the wall. I found the characterizations thin and there was not one I cared very much about. Of the two main characters, one is a Little Miss Perfect, the other is Miss Spoiled Brat. The story is just OK, but much ...more
☮Karen
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Mary Jo Malo
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Divakaruni's poetic portrayal of people and place (sorry for all the alliteration) truly never disappoints. If you appreciate literary novels about cultures and traditions different than your own, this one transcends while taking you deeper into your own heart, learning the joyful and terrifying twists and turns which make all women sisters of the heart. I've already begun the sequel!
Cassy
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
...more
momruncraft
Mar 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Shannon
Apr 30, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Chana
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
...more
Pratibha Suku
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: desi
Though the story-line is good but the ending is rather sudden or I thought it is.
I was bit disappointed that my hunch was not challenged.

But all in all it was a goodread and gives you much fodder to think about. The main highlights were the plights of widow, the struggle of a single women, the superstitious beliefs, role of matriarch, the issue of female feticide. I find the author did justice to all the issues without dramatizing anything.

I had watched a Pakistani drama Mera Naseeb (
...more
Feral
Oct 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Lubi Lafdewali
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Ye'Vell Hopkins
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
It started off slow but by chapter 17 I was fully immersed in the story of Anju and Sudha. It turned out to be a really great story, with many twists and turns as well as an unexpected surprise near the end. This book is a glaring reminder that it doesn't matter what race or religion you are, our stories of disillusionment, love, pain, discontent, longing and finally resolution are often the same.
Jaspreet Kaur | jas_thebookthief
4.5 stars
Because i wanted to know a little bit more about Anju and sudha. Such a powerful story of love, sacrifices, relationships, being strong.
Neha
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was conflicted between a 3.5 and a 4 for this book.

This story has been woven against a backdrop of old Calcutta, of two cousins whose love is truly unconditional and who share an immensely strong bond that goes beyond blood relations. The lives of Sudha and Anjali have a lots of twists and turns, fate putting them in situations that are believable and yet spice the story with an appropriate amount of drama. The storyline was strong and compelling, making it hard to put the book down past
...more
Catherine ♡
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, and I was super excited to learn more about Indian culture, which I admittedly am extremely ignorant about. This did sort of add to my knowledge, but overall it was super difficult to connect with the story. I wasn't a huge fan of any of the characters, and I had to squint to see any character development. The plot itself was melodramatic and messy. The ending of the story did make up a bit for it because there was a reveal that shocked me (which is rare!) but ...more
Neha
May 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Barbara Nutting
Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
OMG was that good!! It gives "beautifully written" a whole new meaning! I particularly liked it because I spent many years selling new homes to young Indian couples in Naperville, IL. I learned from them that even in the late 20th century successful young men still return home to fulfill the tradition of the arranged marriage. Some seemed to have found love with one another, but some didn't!! Thus, I felt a great infinity with these characters - more like non-fiction. Another observance - that ...more
Jalilah
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 ...more
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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 ...more

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Anju and Sudha (2 books)
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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.” 54 likes
“Everytime i have turned the page he re-enters my life as awkward as postscript” 27 likes
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