Title: The Vine Of Desire.
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
Genre: Fiction, Women Centered.
This review had been lying around in my draft for quite some time now. The prequel,'Sister of my Heart' had left me hanging by the thread and I had no other means but to grab the sequel to satiate my eagerness to know what eventually happened to the sisters.
Even though,I cherish CBD's books,each being as idyllic and magical than the other with a life of its own,'The Vine Of Desire' just didn't strike the same chord for me as its predecessor. Maybe that's the reason why I couldn't bring myself to write a review for the book for so long.The prequel had such high standards that I must have expected the same for this book.
The book starts off where the prequel ended *obviously*- Anju and Sunil going to pick up Sudha from the airport.
Miles away from their childhood home, Calcutta,India-the cousins are reunited in San Jose, United States- where Sudha comes to live with the married couple in their small apartment. The cousin's undying love towards each other provides support for both of them; fighting their own battles. Anju dealing with the horrors of her miscarriage and Sudha coming to terms with her new status as a single mother to her daughter Dayita.
Unlike 'Sister Of My Heart', where the chapters switch between Anju's and Sudha's point of view, CBD added 2 more character's point of view in the sequel. One being Sunil- Anju's husband. His point of view is usually directed to Dayita with whom he holds an exclusively close relationship, to her he reveals his true feelings towards both the cousins. How he tried to love one and loves the other. The second is Lalit- a doctor captivated by Sudha; who gets entwined in the complicated relationship. Lalit's point of view is described in the chapters as a conflict he has with is own mind about his growing feelings towards Sudha. The rest of the chapters are a series of back and forth letters between the women & their mothers. Some of Anju's sections are in the form of her papers which she has to prepare for her college classes.
I had this constant feeling of uneasiness throughout the book. The characters I had so much loved in the first book acted almost selfish and unrealistic. Also, I felt the character Sudha was 'forced to' adapt too soon for my taste to the 'ways' of America. It seemed a little strange for a woman who hailed from Calcutta and was a daughter in law in an orthodox family to suddenly be portrayed as an extrovert who had no fear or doubt for the new land that she was in.
What I feel CBD was trying to convey to the readers was the fact that in life sometimes shit happens, and we might as well just fall down. What we need to do is not be pulled down by it but just get back up again and move on with our life, a lesson learnt from our past mistakes.
The book was not a feel good genre. It however, did portray hope.The women could still look at the silver lining in their lives and move forward and doesn't necessarily have to depend on the presence of the men they love/loved. There were some loose ends, some characters were let down with no fault of theirs resulting in me almost dreading the ending of the book.
Not one of my favorites.However, if you think about it, it takes a lot for a sequel to be at par or above the prequel's standard.
The plus point is CBD's rich, exquisite, poetic language.