Before We Visit The Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni spans through the lives of three generations depicting their personalities, actions, decisions and mistakes. The narrative shifts from the naive yet determined village girl Sabitri; to her daughter Bela who takes impulsive decisions blinded by the love of her life; to her daughter Tara, who after witnessing strained relationships between her parents sets out to discover the world on her own. Set across a timeline of around ten decades across continents and three generations, Divakaruni highlights how with changing time, every relationship changes in an individual’s life. Simple emotions and societal acceptance grows by accepting newer terms and making the society liberal in its own way.
Sabitri comes to Kolkata from a small village in order to pursue her education. She was funded by one of the wealthiest ladies of the town. However, she enters the scope of forbidden love for which she is vanquished and left all alone to settle down in a new life. Bela, on the other hand had bigger dreams. But in the process of achieving them, dreams became bigger than relationships to her. Thus, Bela reflects on the compromises that an individual makes in order to put their foot forward for an imagined utopian destiny. Tara is brought up in the United States, thus instilling in her an unwavering ability to carve out her own life; learning from her mistakes and moving forward with it.
Before We Visit The Goddess explore three very different relationships that exist between a mother and a daughter. While a mother dies awaiting the return of her daughter; another regrets decisions taken years ago and laments the strained relationship with her daughter. The three leading ladies have an immense sense of loss of relationships in their lives. However, each one tries to cope up with it in their own way. Thus, Divakaruni tries to fit in the idea of changing relationships with time and a sense of loneliness through her beautifully worded novel, Before We Visit the Goddess.
Personally, I would like to add that though this is a good novel on its own; considering her past works like ‘The Palace of Illusions’ or even ‘One Amazing Thing’, this is not her best novel. The abrupt jumps between years and a shift between the first person narratives through each chapter at times confuse the reader. There are instances when, as a reader I would have liked to know a little more about a character but no further details are provided about him or her. Few lines now and then talk of hidden truths, but they are not expressed very clearly for the reader. Lastly, the novel ends on an open-ended note. As a reader, probably I would expect a definite end. Open ended sequences do work well for some novels, but however for this one I found it as a mismatch.
Nevertheless, I would recommend you all to read the book once as a stand-alone book and to not compare it with any of her previous literary works. Before We Visit The Goddess is available on Flipkart, Snapdeal, Amazon and at your nearest bookstores.
If you have not read it yet, grab your copy now!