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Queen Of Dreams [Paperback]

Chitra Divakaruni
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

3 Nov 2005

In QUEEN OF DREAMS, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni once more spins a fresh, spellbinding story of transformation.

Rakhi, a young artist and divorced mother living in Berkeley, California, is struggling to keep her footing, with her family and her world in alarming transition. Her mother is a dream-teller, born with the ability to share and interpret the dreams of others, to foresee and guide them through their fates. This gift fascinates Rakhi, but also isolates her from her mother's past in India and the dream world she inhabits, and she longs for something to bring them closer. Caught beneath the burden of her painful secret, Rakhi's solace comes in the discovery, after her mother's death, of her dream journals, which begin to open the long-closed doors to her past. As Rakhi's mother writes 'A dream is a telegram from the hidden world'.

In lush elegant prose, Divakaruni has crafted a vivid and enduring dream that reveals hidden truths about the world we live in, from which readers will be reluctant to wake.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (3 Nov 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349119414
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349119410
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 176,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

The award-winning author of MISTRESS OF SPICES and SISTER OF MY HEART returns with a luminous novel in her signature style - a tale of family, love, and identity, and the mystical story of a woman caught between two worlds.

About the Author

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the author of the bestselling novels THE MISTRESS OF SPICES and SISTER OF MY HEART, the prizewinning story collections ARRANGED MARRIAGE and THE UNKNOWN ERRORS OF OUR LIVES. She teaches creative writing at the University of Houston and divides her time between Houston and the San Francisco Bay area.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Queen of Dreams is a beautifully written gem of a novel. Full of provocative insights, and timely observations on marriage, family, racism, and the immigrant experience, the novel effectively chronicles the lives of a Bengali immigrant family living in California on the eve of September 11th 2001. Elegant is style and tone, the story centers around a woman caught between the real world that is crumbling around her and her mother's infectious and mysterious dream world.
The narrative alternates between Rakhi, who was born in the United States and her mother, Mrs. Gupta, who emigrated from India. Mrs. Gupta has a unique talent - she's a dream teller; she has the ability to translate dreams - be it her own or others. She is driven by the ability to help others through their dreams, having learned the technique from her childhood in India. Without a doubt Rakhi is American but a feeling of belonging to her birth land constantly haunts her. She is married and newly separated from Sonny, a young, carefree disc jockey, and she cares for Jona, their young daughter. One night Sonny left her to fend for herself at a dance party, and she has never forgiven him; she never told her family about it and the incident contributed to their separation.
Rakhi owns The Chai House, a small café, and Belle, her spunky girlfriend helps her run it. Rakhi is also a painter and hopes, one day to be discovered. But when a rival café opens on the opposite side of the street, and her mother dies in a fatal crash, she has to use all the resources at her disposal to save her flailing business, and repair the strained relationship with her daughter.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping read 15 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Have read a few of Chitra's books. This is not the best I have ever read but was quite enjoyable.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful. 17 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Something really different to entertain a confirmed bookaholic like me. Kept me entertained from start to, much too early, finish.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magic book 19 Dec 2005
Format:Paperback
This is a magic book, text dissapear and appear. So when you're finished you can go back and read more. :-)
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good book from Divakaruni 4 Oct 2004
By Ratmammy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
QUEEN OF DREAMS by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

October 3, 2004

I became a fan of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni when I read SISTER OF MY HEART. QUEEN OF DREAMS is the fourth novel by Divakaruni that I've read and it did not disappoint. For those who have read her books, this one resembles VINE OF DESIRE the most, with both taking place in the Bay Area of Northern California, but at the same time has references that lead back to India. Both books relate to the immigrant's life in California, and how their life has changed since leaving their homeland.

But that is where the resemblance stops. In QUEEN OF DREAMS, the focus is on relationships, mostly between a mother, Mrs. Gupta, and her adult daughter Rahki. While VINE OF DESIRE was rooted in the physical world, QUEEN OF DREAMS flows into the world of dreams, as Mrs. Gupta has the ability to decipher them, be it her own or others. She has the ability to help others through their dreams, and this is what drives her. While mother and daughter are close, this is one area that Rahki is not allowed to trespass. She desires her mother's talent, but it was not passed on to her. It leaves Rahki bitter and resentful that she cannot share in this part of her mother's life.

The book follows Rahki's attempts to understand her mother better, and at the same time the reader, and later Rahki, are allowed to see what Mrs. Gupta's dream journal confesses. The journal tells Mrs. Gupta's story, from her days in India to her dreams that foretell her death.

Rahki, in the meantime, is newly divorced and living with her young daughter Jona. She is trying to survive by running a coffeehouse and selling her paintings, hoping to be "discovered" one day. She also has to deal with her ex-husband Sonny, who is in her life almost every day because of their daughter. She has not forgiven Sonny for something that happened during their marriage, and she has never told her family about this incident, which led to their divorce.

I enjoyed QUEEN OF DREAMS as much as I have enjoyed her other novels. I love how she blends in the culture of India, the Old World, with life in California. She does a good job describing what it feels like to be an immigrant in the United States, as well as being the children of immigrants, not quite belonging to the new country and certainly not belonging to the homeland. The segments on dreams were done well enough that Divakaruni had me believing in them.

She also did a good job showing how the characters related and reacted to September 11, which was the climax of the book. It brought back memories for me, showing how those of Middle Eastern descent and Indian descent, living in America, were treated due to the color of their skin, shortly after this horrific event. It again displayed the immigrant experience in America, one of the themes in QUEEN OF DREAMS.

For those who enjoy reading about other cultures living in America, or those who enjoy stories of mothers and daughters, this book is for you. I recommend this book heartily.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The power of the past to shape the future 16 Sep 2004
By Luan Gaines - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
From the domestic to the mystical, Divakaruni has a unique talent for blending the daily lives of Indian-Americans with the myths of a distant homeland.

In a story that examines the relationship of a troubled young mother, in the middle of a divorce, with her own mother, a dream teller, we learn of the indecision and self-doubt that haunts Rakhi. Fascinated by her mother's past, the years spent in India training to counsel clients by reading their dreams, Rakhi is obsessed more with the known than the unknown, convinced that if she can solve the riddle of a distant mother, she will locate her own missing pieces.

When Rakhi's mother dies in an accident, the daughter is left with a failing tea shop, her mother's Dream Journals and unresolved questions about her failed marriage. When even her painting hits a brick wall and inspiration disappears, Rakhi is bereft. But as Rakhi's father translates the dream journals, painful truths are revealed to father and daughter, bringing them closer in grief and understanding. The journals are an unexpected parting gift, an opportunity for Rakhi and her father to reawaken their long-dormant relationship and heal past misunderstandings.

Through the journals, we learn of the despair of an intuitive Indian girl, forced to choose between her talent for dream telling and the love of the man she marries. The seemingly complacent wife, who has helped so many through difficulties, is a multi-layered, complex woman beset by her own inner challenges, searching for peace and contentment, faced with untenable choices. This mother is warm and accessible, her deep conflicts and passions revealed.

While the attacks on 9/11 throw the Indian-American community into the same confusion as other American citizens, they are later attacked because they look like terrorists, outcast in their own neighborhoods.

All of these things create the impetus that forces Rakhi into the necessary changes to get her life back on track. Questioning her most basic assumptions and motives, the true nature of love and the capacity to forgive, Rakhi makes an extraordinary journey, guided by the constant presence of her mother's loving spirit. Steeped in the ramifications of diversity, cultural identity and the importance of family, Divakaruni once more proves herself an inspiring and master storyteller. Luan Gaines/2004.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another 5-star novel 27 Oct 2005
By Kathryn Radtkey-gaither - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have now read 4 of Ms. Divakaruni's books, and hope she writes another novel soon. She has a tremendous gift to make her images come to life in your head as you are reading. I also felt again that I was being given a privileged tour of a culture different than my own, and could see my own culture through different eyes. So in addition to being entertained, I was being educated. Along with a great story comes a little magic--in that way her work reminds me of Alice Hoffman--the magic seems like a completely natural and believeable part of the world. Read this book, and then read the rest of her work!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Queen of Dreams is a delight 27 Dec 2004
By A. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I open the first pages of a novel by Chitra Divakaruni, I know I'm in good hands. There will be a fascinating, exciting story, interesting and compelling characters, and every event will be told in rich, poetic prose. Queen of Dreams is no exception. I read it very quickly because the story kept pulling me forward; one climax after another made for a very exciting read. I reread it more slowly, then, to enjoy details I might have missed. I was never disappointed. I recommend this book highly to anyone who is interested in relationships between family members and between friends. The events of 9/11/01 are also an important part of this story, with ramifications that are powerful and ring with truth.

Don't let the inclusion of Dream Journals throw you off. This thread running through the novel is more real than anything else in it; it's vivid and moving and an important part of the journey. It is not my idea of "magic realism." It is my idea of great story telling that makes me want to keep the pages turning in order to find out what happens next. When it's over, I have a lot to think about. I will certainly recommend it to my book group.

I envy those of you who have not yet read Queen of Dreams. You have a treat in store for you. I hope Divakaruni will gift us with another novel soon.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of family, relationships, & pride in one's heritage 15 Oct 2004
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's latest novel QUEEN OF DREAMS is another tale of East meets West. She writes what she knows best, about the world of the Indian immigrant living in America. In this novel, as in THE VINES OF DESIRE, Divakaruni takes the reader to northern California. Rakhi, a divorced mother of one, is trying to deal with life as a single mother and understand her own mother, who is able to interpret dreams.

Divakaruni blends both the metaphysical with the tangible physical world. Mrs. Gupta, Rakhi's mother, had kept a journal throughout her life. The chapters of QUEEN OF DREAMS are interspersed with these journal entries that describe her dreams and her everyday waking thoughts. One gets a glimpse of her life, from her days in India where she learned to be a dream interpreter to the day she met her husband, Rakhi's father. Mrs. Gupta continues her journal after she settles in America with her new husband and child, revealing a different perspective from what Rakhi sees as reality. The dreams themselves take on a poetic feel, filled with symbolism and folklore that reveal to the reader an image of India; not the physical aspects, but the cultural beliefs, the myths, and the legends. It's a contrast between Western Civilization and the Old World of the East.

The story opens with Mrs. Gupta's dream of a snake, the foreseer of change. She tries to guess what the snake is telling her, whether he is foretelling a birth or a death. She senses a bad omen and finally understands that it is her own death the snake is warning her about. The snake reassures her that, although death means an end to life, it can also mean a new beginning. It is snippets of dreams like this that help shape the mood of the book and prepares the reader for what is yet to come.

Unlike her mother, Rakhi is totally rooted in the physical world of Northern California. She knows very little about her parents' lives in India and wishes she knew more. She makes her living by running a coffeehouse called The Chai House with her best friend Belle, but Rakhi's real goal is to become an artist. She paints when she can, and her latest obsession is a painting that involves a man dressed in white. She doesn't know who he is, but he hovers just beyond her reach. She searches in vain for this man that she instinctively feels may have the key to some of the unknowns in her life.

One of the main themes is that of the relationship between mother and daughter, and it is done very well through the characters of Rakhi and her mother, as well as through Rhaki's six-year-old daughter Jona. Rakhi feels close to her mother, but there is a wall that prevents them from ever becoming truly close. Her mother refuses to discuss the dreams or her life in India, and Rakhi is bitter, unhappy that she does not understand this part of her mother's life, a life that is so guarded that it causes a rift in their relationship. Her divorce is another sore point between them. Her parents still love Sonny, but she can never explain to them why she had to leave him. Her daughter Jona loves both her parents, and as the novel progresses, Rakhi encounters problems with her own daughter because of her muddled relationship with Sonny.

Things change when Mrs. Gupta dies in a tragic automobile accident, and the dynamics of some of Rakhi's important relationships are changed forever. She notices her father for the first time, and he's not the same indifferent man she thought she knew. Together they read her mother's journal, an act that will change both of them forever. She also finds herself in a maturing relationship with Sonny, while she herself is changing and growing too.

QUEEN OF DREAMS is ultimately a story of how one woman touches those around her during her life and into death. Divakaruni's talent is not only good storytelling, but also creating characters that are dynamic and real in one way or another. One may not truly believe in the power of dreams, but that isn't the point of this book. The focus is on family, relationships, pride in one's heritage, and how one may not truly understand another as well as they think. Highly recommended.

--- Reviewed by Marie Hashima Lofton (Ratmammy@lofton.org)
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