Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I have always believed that reading a good book is an experience that transcends most other means of entertainment. Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni increased my conviction in such an experience of reading a well-written book.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni does not need any introduction and the merit of her craft is well established. Every time I read a new book by her, I am amazed at her ability to write about women characters that have lived through challenges, may or may not have been able to win over, but are inspiring and thought provoking.

Before We Visit the Goddess is a story of three women, Sabitri, Bela and Tara, who are separated by a whole generation. While one could say that the story line in itself is simple and straight-forward, it is the characters, their journeys and their interactions with each other and many other characters that make this book shine bright.

The way Banerjee develops and builds the three characters is outstanding, almost allowing the reader to visualize each of them transform, like a narrow stream transforming into a gushing waterfall over a cliff or a worn-out summer leaf transforming into a bright green affluence under the first monsoon shower, leaving behind a trail of introspection, after-thought and some cuddled up emotions.

The grand-mother Sabitri, the daughter Bela and the grand-daughter Tara, each have their journeys laid out, to leave behind experiences that are life lessons, yet Banerjee keeps the narrative strikingly simple, relatable, almost out of our own lives. The in-experiences and adrenalin rush of a young woman, the mistakes of a no-clue-about-life girl, the indulgences of a lonely, abandoned women, the insecurities of chauvinistic male…and a lot more is packed in this narrative.

The book does have a strong influence of Bangla culture, setting and glimpses of Kolkata. But then, it also has strong elements of the confusion that people of Indian origin may possibly be facing in USA.

The book at many levels is depressing, talks about mistakes that cannot be corrected and their fallout. It may sink an already sad soul into the pits, yet it has a ray of hope, that makes you gear up to the challenge of not giving up and taking in our own stride what Life has to offer.

It left a distinct after-taste, something that lingered on for days, to such an extent that I could not start reading a new one. But at the end of it all, it left a smile, a little hope and a lot of courage…to get going and live my life to the best of my abilities.

You can buy this book on Amazon

Note: This book was bought at the launch of the paperback edition at India International Centre, read and reviewed by Dipankar Mukherjee.
No. of Pages: 256
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Paperback/Hardcover

This review was first published on

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