This novel opens with Sibitri in Bengal, India, writing to the American granddaughter she doesn't know, Tara. Asked by Bela, her daughter, to convince Tara to stay in school, Sibitri reminisces about her family history, wrought by life's silences and omissions. Written in exquisite prose, this complicated family saga brings a full circle effect to its unfortunate characters, three strong women, bringing understanding to the enigmas of the past.
A beautiful, "deeply affecting" (Kirkus Reviews) novel from the bestselling, award-winning author of Sister of My Heart and The Mistress of Spices about three generations of mothers and daughters who must discover their greatest source of strength in one another. Sweeping across the twentieth century, from the countryside of Bengal, India, to the streets of Houston, Texas, Before We Visit the Goddess takes readers on an extraordinary journey through the lives of three unforgettable women: Sabitri, Bela, and Tara. As the young daughter of a poor rural baker, Sabitri yearns to get an education, but schooling is impossible on the meager profits from her mother's sweetshop. When a powerful local woman takes Sabitri under her wing, her generous offer soon proves dangerous after Sabitri makes a single, unforgiveable misstep. Years later, Sabitri's own daughter, Bela, haunted by her mother's choices, flees to America with her political refugee lover--but the world she finds is vastly different from her dreams. As the marriage crumbles and Bela decides to forge her own path, she unwittingly teaches her little girl, Tara, indelible lessons about freedom and loyalty that will take a lifetime to unravel. Told through a sparkling symphony of voices--those of the women themselves and the men who loved them--Before We Visit the Goddess captures the gorgeous complexity of these multi-generational and transcontinental relationships, showing the deep threads of love and hope and bravery that define a family and a life. This is a "gracefully insightful, dazzlingly descriptive, and covertly stinging tale that] illuminates the opposition women must confront, generation by generation, as they seek both independence and connection" (Booklist, starred review).