The Sleeping Dictionary

The Sleeping Dictionary

Book - 2013 | First Gallery Books trade paperback edition.
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From an award-winning novelist, a stunning portrait of late Raj India--a sweeping saga and a love story set against a background of huge political and cultural upheaval.

YOU ASK FOR MY NAME, THE REAL ONE, AND I CANNOT TELL. IT IS NOT FOR LACK OF EFFORT.

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.
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Gallery Books, 2013.
Edition: First Gallery Books trade paperback edition.
ISBN: 9781476703169
Branch Call Number: MASSE
Characteristics: xix, 496 pages ; 21 cm.

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Great way to get some background on pre WWII India up to the time of independence. Of course the heroine escaped death too many times to be realistic but she needed to survive to tell the story of India through the life of a low-born peasant orphaned by a tsunami through to learning English as a servant in a boarding school then on to the brothel system in British India and the dysfunctional government in India leading to its independence. I learned a lot and the writing is intelligent and entertaining. I was daunted by the Indian glossary at the front of the book but it is totally not necessary as the Indian words are easy to parse in context. And I did try the rice recipe at the end of the book.

d
dressage
Oct 04, 2015

I so enjoyed this book because of the strong character of Pom. Her strength and intelligence makes the journey through this time in history hopeful in the face of overwhelming odds.
A rewarding read.

s
SarahArnoldHam
Nov 18, 2013

I read about this book in the Mpls Star Trib and immediately put it on hold. It was definitely worth the wait. Massey creates a strong female character who withstands more adversity than most people could handle. Although I am not quite finished with the book, I love that our protagonist takes on roles which were always dominated by males. Typhoons, tidal waves, orphaned, and a survivor. Wow.

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