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Before We Visit the Goddess

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  5,118 ratings  ·  804 reviews
A beautiful, powerful new novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of Sister of My Heart and The Mistress of Spices about three generations of mothers and daughters who must discover their greatest source of strength in one another—a masterful, brilliant tale of a family both united and torn apart by ambition and love.

The daughter of a poor baker in rural Bengal, I
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 19th 2016 by Simon Schuster (first published April 13th 2016)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  5,118 ratings  ·  804 reviews

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Rating 3.5

Before We Visit the Goddess tells the story of three generations of women in a family. The story moves from India to California to Texas. It moves back and forth in time and between the characters. Sabitri, lives in India and gets a devastating call from her daughter Bela. Bela's daughter Tara wants to quit college. Sabitri begins to write to her granddaughter, Tara, who she has never met, explaining why she should stay in college. So begins the tale of these three women.

I don't recall
Angela M
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reading this book made me think that I really should read more of this author's books. I wanted to read this because of how much her book One Amazing Thing impressed me . This book in a way reminds me of it with its portrayal of the relationships , the connections between characters of different generations, even though they are very different stories .

This is a short but meaningful novel of mothers and daughters ,of unexpected friendships , of cultural heritage . This is the story of Sabitri ,
Elyse  Walters
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Central theme is about an Indian family and three generations of women.
It's written in different time lines. This novel 'almost' feels like several short stories are being told which are linked together - but mostly it felt like that to me because the overall story isn't told in chronological order. It kept me on my toes and curious as to how things would tie up at the end....yet in the end it felt like stories I've read before- or stories I've heard before from my Indian friends here in Si
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
This book was just what I needed. It's a beautiful story about mothers and daughters told through interconnected short stories. It jumps back and forth in time as well, and through this narrative structure you get to see how events are interpreted differently by the characters and how they play a part in shaping their lives. The writing style was wonderful; it was simple and very readable but carried a lot of emotion. I think the title story was one of my favorites. Much like Jhumpa Lahiri or An ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This novel is made up of stories of the lives of three generations of women in one family. They are not organized chronologically, in fact one story starts from one decade and moves backwards in time. I really enjoyed the ways Divakaruni plays with time in that way, so you don't know whether to blame the mother or daughter for a conflict they are having.

Some see this as an immigration story, as one of the women moves to the USA from India and raises her daughter there. And this occurs, for sure,
“As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sure it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot now imagine a life without her.”

----Kristin Hannah

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the best selling, award-winning author, has penned a terrific and heart rending grandmother-mother-daughter relationship drama in her new book, Before We Visit the Goddess that revolves around thr
Connie G
Nov 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Good daughters are fortunate lamps, brightening the family's name. Wicked daughters are firebrands, blackening the family name." This Indian proverb is repeated often in this story about three generations of mothers and daughters. All three women are hoping for love, a connection with their children, and a meaningful life.

The book starts in the home of Sabitri in West Bengal, India. Her daughter, Bela, follows the man she loves to the United States and they have a rebellious daughter, Tara. Tar
Jessica Woodbury
Mar 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, authors-of-color
This one started as a 4-possibly-5-stars but gradually fell little by little. Ultimately I think the author and I just aren't quite a good fit for each other. I loved the first chapter and the story of Sabitri's life. I loved the concept behind the novel of finding what success means as a woman. But I always found that Divakaruni pushed one step too far. Characters I really enjoyed would do just ONE more thing and become someone I didn't like much anymore. There were just a few extra voices in t ...more
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Before We Visit the Goddess started off "meh" for me, but at some point around the middle I realized that I had been completely pulled in by story. The book focuses on three generations of women -- Sabitri the grandmother who spends her whole life in India, Bela her daughter who immigrated to the US in her late teens, and Tara who is born and raised in the US. Initially, this felt like a decent but unoriginal novel about immigration and generational divides. But as I got into it, it turned into ...more
Dec 09, 2016 rated it liked it
A story of three generations of women, Sabitri, her daughter Bela, and her granddaughter Tara.
The story moves back and forth in time and there are multiple PoVs, so you get a chance to find out how each woman is actually feeling about a particular incident/moment in her life.
This was a pretty quick read, and not the first I've read by this author. I enjoyed this more than two other books I've read by this author, though I found the ending abrupt.
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
" What is it about children? An old need twisted in Sabitri's chest. Protect, protect."

A friend recently told me about an American colleague's reaction to her mother's six month long visit. "I can't believe you can live with your mother for six months!" was the colleague's comment. Obviously, my friend and I were as bewildered by this reaction as the colleague was by the (subjectively speaking) long stay. It led me to start thinking about cultural differences in parent-child interactions. Indian
There are books. There are journeys. There are books that are journeys. After a long time, I was invested in multiple characters from the same book and I felt I was a part of their journey from start to finish. I hadn’t felt that way for multiple characters in a book in a long time. There may be multiple reasons for the likability of all of these characters, each of which are from a different generation and still face the same form of troubles that the other generation faced.

The book begins with
Diane S ☔
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.5 Three generations of women, mothers and daughters, relationships fraught with misunderstandings and conflicts.

I think I understood Sabitri the most, identified with her and came to really admire all she accomplished. Her daughter Bela, I felt was very selfish, couldn't understand how she did what she did. Did warm up to her by the end of the book, but never really identified with her and hated the way she treated her mother. Tara, Belas daughter I was very conflicted about until the very en
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was really good! I recommend this one to you all.
Pankaj Giri
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Early last year, destiny showered me with a once in a lifetime opportunity. I had some work in Bangalore, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, one of the favorite writers (I had loved her novel ‘Sister of My Heart’) was also coming to Bangalore to attend the Bangalore Times Lit Fest. I got a chance to attend her session, interact with her and Murthy, her husband, and even get a signed copy of her latest novel ‘Before We Visit The Goddess’. I will cherish it forever. Not everyday do you get to meet an ...more
Dec 19, 2016 rated it liked it
This was yet another book challenge read. I haven't read this author before. Her writing was very neat and clean. The story, while it was definitely well structured, contained a lot of repetition. This story covered three generations of women (and then some) and contained a few different POVs. I think having all the different POVs was the biggest problem for me. It made this not only repetitive, but also jumpy.

Overall, I liked this. The author described the relationship dynamics very well....the
Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has been one of my favorite authors for a while now. This is one of her best books. I was absorbed in the characters and their situations from the first page. I loved the structure of the book which did some skipping around, but not in a confusing way. Three generations of Indian women and the secrets they keep from each other make for a book that is difficult to put down, a book that will stay with me for a long time. ...more
Let me begin by saying this - I love this author. I love her writing and her online persona. So, I knew I was gonna like this book before I even started.

Vivid portrayal of female characters, good storyline spanning generations and a few moments that will tug on your heartstrings are this book's strength. (The thought of Sabitri never again seeing her daughter and granddaughter is hurting my stomach and am going to take sometime to get okay with this. )

The men in this book are all way too weak t
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Never have I ever ... been so exasperated by a novel.

I feel like I've started to read Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's books out of habit, and out of hope that one of them will be as amazing as The Palace of Illusions, one of my all time favorite books. This latest one felt like half a novel -- extremely annoying, as it was good, and I would have loved to read the complete story. The story covers three generations of women (Savitri, Bela, and Tara) and the way their lives intersect, and affect each
Ushasree N
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is a master story teller that both inspires and intrigues.

Read the full review @

Thanks for the read.
Kati Berman
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the first book I have read by this author. Before we Visit the Goddess is a family story of three generations of Indian women, Sabithri, her daughter Bela and Bela's daughter Tara. Sabithri never left India, she had a successful store Durka's Sweets, named after her mother. Bela leaves for America following her lover, who becomes her husband. This family is by no means the happily ever after. Relationships, marriages don't always work out. The story is told from the 1950's to 2020 in no ...more
Mar 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
I love the premise of this book & the characters are well developed but I felt that I needed more details. I felt like too much was left to my imagination. Too many years are skipped throughout the story & the transitioning between character's point of view was disjointed & jarring at times.
Each character is multi layered & there is growth on the part of each by the end but I never really felt like I fully understood them or the relationships they had with each other. It felt rushed.
The prose i
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the first half of this novel about Sabriti and her daughter and grandaughter- the novel was a pure pleasure to curl up with. Then the book just devolved into fractured, nonsensical episodes. I doubt that I would have finished it if it wasn't so short.
Padmaja (thebookishtales)
You know you loved reading a book when the first thoughts you have are about the book after waking up!
A beautiful story of three generations, Sabitri, Bela and Tara. The story starts in rural Bengal and ends in Texas.
Sabitri is a daughter of a poor sweet maker in Bengal, for whom education is a privilege. A rich woman from the village sponsors her education but one mistake makes everything go haywire.
Bela, Sabitri's daughter elopes with her lover to the US. Hers is a story of immense whirlwinds
Ankita Chauhan
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is that kind of author who has potential to make you fall in love with her work, since first few lines. When I started reading “Before We Visit the Goddess” I closed the book as well as eyes at once, to sense just that startled feeling. I was dying to say this “Dear Chitra Ma’am, you weave love, depth, tenderness into your intriguing stories, What a Beautiful Work, actually Gorgeous”

Basically, the story of “Before We V
Eustacia Tan
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
This was such a beautiful book. I wasn't sure what to expect from it, but it's just... Beautiful. Just beautiful and rather sad.

Before We Visit the Goddess is an intergenerational story about Sabitri, her daughter Bela and her granddaughter Tara. It skips around in time and point of view, but by the end, comes to form one story.

All three women have made mistakes, and their mistakes have cost them dearly. Bela ran away from America and never went back, Tara dropped out of college and didn't conta
4.5 stars rounded to 5

This story is told from three different perspectives, those of Grandmother, Mom, and Daughter.

I thought Grandmother’s story was the most interesting, unfolding slowly as she wrote a letter to her granddaughter, imploring her to stay in school.
Mom’s story was ok, about growing up with distant parents and being the pawn of an overactive imagination or an old magician or maybe both. She's the bridge between her own mother and her daughter and she's failed in that role.
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have read couple of Divakaruni's previous books and found them all to be pretty entertaining.
This book was multilayered and more grittier than her usual storylines. The story spans three generations and paints the lives of 3 women. Grandmother, mother, daughter. I liked the fact that the relationship the mother daughter shares in each generation was not picture perfect. It seemed more real. In each generation the mother does what she felt was right for her daughter only to be left heartbroken
Good Book Fairy
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-read
So much emotion, tenderness, love, regrettable mistakes and blatant misunderstandings rest between the covers of this book. Before We Visit The Goddess covers the connections between mother, daughter and granddaughter and the men that stir between them.

The chapters read like short stories (although they’re not) that linked together to form the overall novel. This book starts strong, wavers a little then finishes with a punch. I really enjoyed learning about these three characters and seeing how
Leslie Reese
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. I would like to write my thoughts but these days other things demand my time and attention so much I need a nap! Loved reading it especially about the first 90+ pages. After that I felt that Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni was purposefully trying to include lots of contemporary situations and it felt (to me) a bit less fluid and artful. Still, she is a great novelist so its still a good read.
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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 ant ...more

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