The story is about two young women, Anju and Sudha, who are cousins, who grow up together, and who are born on the same day, the day both of their fathers die in suspicious circumstances in the predator-infested thick mangrove jungles of the Sundarbans. Despite the element of mystery and curiosity about the death of the fathers, this is not a mystery novel. The circumstances of the girls’ fathers’ death, therefore, is not the main line of the story, but only a critical foundation which thrusts the two girls to a lifetime of bonding as it does their mothers, Gouri Ma and Aunt N, and Pishi, who all live in the same house as a close-knit family. With fathers dead and no other male members in the family, the upper-class Calcutta family of three women and two girls forms the central unit of the story. The story is about the relationship and bonding between Anju and Sudha, whose love and affection for each other is full of selfless sacrifice, open truthfulness, mutual dependence, cathartic devotion, and, at times, with slight jealousy. The author adeptly traces the story of the two young women from their childhood to their womanhood, as told in first-person narrative alternately by Anju and Sudha. Each is the sister of the heart of the other.
The story is driven, more by characters than by plot. As a reader, I felt as though I was in the same room while the protagonists were engrossed in conversation, oblivious of my presence. Divakaruni artfully tells the story in narratives full of similes and metaphors. Her prose is lyrical and is poetic.
A good read!