The Mistress of Spices

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Anchor Books, 1997 - Fiction - 338 pages
A first novel by the author of the short story collection, "Arranged Marriage," "The Mistress of Spices" is a mystical tale told by Tilo, a young Indian woman in an old woman's body who has been trained in the secret power of spices. Her special knowledge leads her to Oakland, California where she uses it to help the local Indian community by opening a spice shop from which she administers spices as curatives. Tilo can see into people's hearts and minds but it is a mistress' duty to keep herself at a distance, "not too far or near, in calm kindness poised." However, Tilo is unable to obey her charge, and she becomes emotionally involved with her customers as they struggle with the demands of their families, the clash of the old way versus the American way, racism, abusive husbands--all of the complexities of living in the modern world.

It is also her duty to limit her involvement to the Indian community. But Tilo finds herself mysteriously drawn to an American man named Raven, whose innermost thoughts she cannot read. Her complex and passionate relationships with her customers and Raven are in violation of her spice mistress vows, and so she finds herself forced to choose between the magical life of an immortal and the vicissitudes of life in the real world. Vibrant, vivacious, headstrong and daring, Tilo is unforgettable and so is her story.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tkcs - www.librarything.com

I really liked her book Sister of My Heart, and enjoyed (just a little less) it's sequel, The Vine of Desire. I've read some reviews that compare Mistress of Spices to Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate. I liked that very much so I'm giving Mistress a try. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BookConcierge - LibraryThing

This is a modern-day fairy tale, and like all fairy tales there is a lesson (or several) to be learned. Reminiscent of "Like Water for Chocolate." Makes me wish I knew more about spice lore and Indian ... Read full review

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About the author (1997)

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the bestselling author of the novels Sister of My Heart and The Mistress of Spices; the story collections The Unknown Errors of Our Lives and Arranged Marriage, which received several awards, including the American Book Award; and four collections of prize-winning poetry. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Ms., Zoetrope, Good Housekeeping, O: The Oprah Magazine, The Best American Short Stories 1999, and The New York Times. Born in India, Divakaruni lives near Houston.

For further information about Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, visit her Web site at www.chitradivakaruni.com.

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