Book Post – Oleander girl -Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni


Have you read a book in one sitting, powering through the  pages, only to  realize  the book has sucked you into a whirlpool of emotions, transporting you into a different world, and you find yourself relating to every single word, identifying with characters, dealing with their angst and joy, like your own? Oleander Girl is one such book and  is simply unputdownable”(If there exists a world like that ) till you finish reading it cover to cover in one sitting.

If you haven’t yet read it, and my opening comments have not already got you intrigued, I recommend, you read Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s , Oleander girl. She is one of my favourite Indian authors  and  I have been smitten by her body of work since The Palace of illusions. To give you a glimpse of what is in store  Read on:

The Plot  –  It’s the tale of  seventeen year old  Korobi Roy , named after the  Oleander flower ,who embarks on a journey to find her biological father, presumed to be dead until the eve of her engagement to Rajat Bose. Prodded on by the vision of her dead mother, Korobi begins her long drawn search for her father and her individuality through this journey. Brought up by her grandparents in a traditional Bengali family, she was shielded with love from the darkest secrets of her mother. The story is divided into two parts, one set in Kolkata ,fragmented by culture, economic and social status  and the latter set in post 9/11 America.

The plot is built around the Bengali  families of  Bose’s ( Korobi’s future in laws) , the elderly Roy’s ( grandparents), a few other characters all woven around a kaleidoscope of emotions ranging from love, jealousy, hypocrisy etc. Bringing all the characters  and emotions together is  Korobi’s complex journey braving her fears, notions of (in) security, marriage and lurking temptations, dealing with the sudden death of her grandfather and the lurking financial doom around her.

My thoughts on the plot – Chitra narrates the tale of the Oleander girl with utmost finesse. She recreated the Kolkata  that I had explored  as a teen taking me  on a virtual journey again with her story. Those nuances of the food, temperaments , temperatures  etched in my mind forever seemed so real. Each character is given adequate  time to breathe, to add relevance to the story, and seem so relatable.  Through the story, Chitra touches upon the sensitive topics of  love, pre wedding jitters ,the perceived sense of honour in Indian parents, religious intolerance and the great Indian social divide . Her characters are real and flawed , just the way I like them. My favourite among them was Mrs. Bose , the would be mother in law of Korobi, I loved  the beautiful portrayal of her relationship with her husband.

Without being preachy, this piece of fiction is an exploration of  human spirit through adversity and  is the story of a young girl torn between love and responsibility. The reader can witness the pangs of  an immigrant, Chitra’s longing for India and Kolkata in general.  She  provides a balanced view and depicts both sides of the Indian life, of embracing India with the negative and the positive, of the proud heritage, culture and also the underlying social structure built  on gossip, of an individual’s socio-economic  standing affecting relationships and generation gaps

Find below an excerpt of the book which resonated with me:

The few lines below narrated by Korobi, when she is finally shown a picture of her mother:

“I knew her right away–those serious, straight eyebrows were the ones I saw whenever I looked in the mirror. But she was her own person, too, with her generous, strong-willed, beautiful mouth. She smiled with such vivacity into the camera that I was sure my father had been the photographer. Indeed, when I turned it over, a bold script stated, To lovely Anu. My heart raced. Halfway across the world, before I’d even been imagined, my father had handed this piece of paper to my mother. I ran my fingers across the back, over where their fingers had rested. It was as close to touching the two of them as I had ever been.”

Here’s the link if you would like to buy the book onli

Picture Courtesy – Google Images


About Thumbelina81
A dreamer lost in this world. Part time Writer, Part time Gardener, A full time wife.

3 Responses to Book Post – Oleander girl -Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

  1. Martian Poet says:

    I will read it!

  2. KP says:

    The review is very good almost compelling one to buy the and experience the joy the reviewer derived in reading the book

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