Before we visit the goddess by Chitra Banerjee

Before We Visit The Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the first novel I read after finishing Kissing The Demons by Amrita Kumar and no doubt my whole perspective of reading and reviewing book has changed after reading Kissing The Demons.

Previously my focus was always the story and how interesting and entertaining it is to read. But now things are not the same. I have consciously started noticing a few things which were overlooked previously.

Before We Visit The Goddess is the story of three generations: grandmother, mother and daughter. It not the story about beautiful relation of mothers and daughters but more about fallout in relationships due to time, misunderstanding and individual choices in spite of longing for each other. By the time, cobwebs of misunderstanding are cleared only feeling that was left were of regret and guilt.

The author seamlessly and effortlessly travel through time: past, present and future to narrate the story of these three beautiful and strong women Sabitri (Grandmother), Bela (Mother) and Tara (daughter). Tara’s story is told in present tense, Bela’s was more or less flashback while Sabitri’s story moves from present to backward chronology.

It was a complex style of writing the story of three generations but I think this was the best way the author could have bring out their stories in parallels and provided depth to the narration.

First Person Multiple and Third Person Multiple peripherals has been used to narrate the journey of these three women. The author kept switching from one point of view to another. Apart from the Sabitri, Bela and Tara’s perspective, the author has also used the secondary characters mostly male characters to narrate the story. This gave completely different dimension to the story and the outcome was the terrific,  engrossing read of a beautifully woven book.

Sometimes sudden introduction of a character in the story and frequent switching of perspective will confuse the reader but gradually narrative falls in place. Only a seasoned author like Chitra Banerjee could have pulled off such a complex telling of tale with ease. A novice writer surely would have made mess of it and we as reader would have been deprived from reading such an amazing tale.

Characterization was the backbone of the story and provided a lot of strength to the plot. All the characters were imperfect with weakness and strength that’s why close to reality.

Sabitri and Bela were portrayed as ordinary girls whose real power of character evolved when  tested by time. Also among the other characters I really loved the character of Mrs Mehta Senior and Kenneth. I just wished to read a little more about them but then they were just introduced in the story to tell the tale of Sabitri, Bela and Tara.

The author has exquisite and eloquent writing style something for which she is known. She writes in simple language, no use of any bigshot words, or any lyrical description, or any thundering conversation yet her simple narration tell the story effectively enough to touch the heart and soul of the readers. Her simple description of the flavour of the sweet was absolute mouthwatering. The book kept me in thinking mode for many days.  

The author through Sabitri has emphasised the need to complete the education which is the only way to lead an independent and fulfilling life. The lead characters inspires not to crumbled from the hands of the fate but instead rise from situation to find your own footings.

The Verdict: It is a masterpiece. A must read. 

Thanks to my Just Book friend Hari for recommending this book to me. 


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Ritu Mantri

Ritu is an avid book reader. She also reviews books and have reviewed around 200+ books till date. Her target is to finish 1000 books.

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