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Thursday, September 12, 2013

"The Sleeping Dictionary" by Sujata Massey~Exotic and Enticing...


In 1930, a great ocean wave blots out a Bengali village, leaving only one survivor, a young girl. As a maidservant in a British boarding school, Pom is renamed Sarah and discovers her gift for languages. Her private dreams almost die when she arrives in Kharagpur and is recruited into a secretive, decadent world. Eventually, she lands in Calcutta, renames herself Kamala, and creates a new life rich in books and friends. But although success and even love seem within reach, she remains trapped by what she is . . . and is not. As India struggles to throw off imperial rule, Kamala uses her hard-won skills—for secrecy, languages, and reading the unspoken gestures of those around her—to fight for her country’s freedom and her own happiness.


Published by:  Gallery Books of Simon and Schuster
Pages:  481 along with Glossary of Indian words, recipes and Book Group Discussion Guide
Genre:  Fiction
Author:  Sujata Massey
Website:  http://www.sujatamassey.com
Purchase this book:  Barnes & Noble


SSujata Masseyujata Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany and grew up mostly in St. Paul, Minnesota. She holds a BA in Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins University and started her working life as a features reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun. After leaving the newspaper, she moved to Japan, where she studied Japanese, taught English and began writing her first novel, The Salaryman’s Wife. This novel became the first of many in the Rei Shimura mystery series, which has won Agatha and Macavity awards and been nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Mary Higgins Clark awards. Her August 2013 release, The Sleeping Dictionary, is a trade paperback with Simon & Schuster’s Gallery line, and also an audiobook published by Dreamscape. It’s the first in a series of historical suspense novels featuring Bengali women who each play a role in making modern India.
Sujata’s books have been published in more than 18 countries, and if she could redo her youth, she would have double-majored in history and a foreign language and spent a gap year (or two) abroad. Currently, she’s based near Washington, D.C. and can be contacted through these Internet sites: Facebook, Togather, and sujatamassey.com.

Video of the book:


This is one of those books I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked it up to read.  When I opened it and saw the glossary of words, I was nearly traumatized!  It was daunting to think I might need them, as well as the cast of characters listed, to get through the book. Soon, I found it was far from the truth.  The author was just being accommodating in the extreme and we can thank her for the kindness though it was not really necessary.  She is actually a magnificent author with much to say about the Indian culture and British colonialism, but she says it in such an enticing and engaging way, I was captivated from the first chapter and couldn't put the book down 'til the end.

As Ms Massey takes us on Pom's journey of grief and self-discovery, survival and love, we are swept away by her determination and her ability to integrate the nuggets of truth around her.  I fell in love with the little girl to the grown woman in her.  She is a darling girl with lots of spunk and courage for the tasks put before her...and she's a strong woman role model for those of us who love that type of character!

The streets and different environments of India come alive in Sujata Massey's hands.  I could well envision the villages, the brothel, the school and other locales she writes about.  Every place teeming with life and interest.  I just loved the way she painted the people and "Pom" within the circumstances and surroundings.

This is one of those books that will grab you and keep you reading for the joy and intrigue of it.  I was moved along from chapter to chapter.  The plot and pace were sure and suspenseful. The culture and the quotes kept me interested, but the storyline was heartfelt.  Ms Massey is a consummate storyteller and you'll find yourself held in awe by this book.

5 stars              Deborah/TheBookishDame


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