Synopses & Reviews
A first novel by the author of the short story collection, Arranged Marriage, The Mistress of Spices is a mystical tale told by Tilo, a young Indian woman in an old woman's body who has been trained in the secret powers of spices. Her special knowledge leads her to Oakland, California where she uses it to help the local Indian community by opening a spice shop from which she administers spices as curatives. Tilo can see into people's hearts and minds but it is a mistress's duty to keep herself at a distance, "not too far nor too near, in calm kindness poised." However, Tilo is unable to obey her charge, and she becomes emotionally involved with her customers as they struggle with the demands of their families, the clash of the old way versus the American way, racism, abusive husbands-all of the complexities of living in the modern world.
It is also her duty to limit her involvement to the Indian community. But Tilo finds herself mysteriously drawn to an American man named Raven, whose innermost thoughts she cannot read. Her complex and passionate relationships with her customers and Raven are in violation of her spice mistress vows, and so she finds herself forced to choose between the magical of an immortal and the vicissitudes of life in the real world. Vibrant, vivacious, headstrong and daring, Tilo is unforgettable and so is her story."
The publication of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's first novel, The Mistress of Spices, engendered the same kind of critical response her prizewinning short story collection, Arranged Marriage, received. "Splendid", "irresistible", and "enchanting" describe in part the praise garnered by this mesmerizing tale. And book buyers agreed. With more than 30,000 copies in print and a fifteen-week stay on The San Francisco Chronicle bestseller list, Divakaruni has confirmed her status as one of America's most exciting new writers.
Magical, tantalizing, and sensual, The Mistress of Spices is the story of Tilo, a young woman born in another time in a faraway place who is trained in the ancient art of spices and ordained as a mistress charged with special powers. Once fully initiated in a rite of fire, the now immortal Tilo -- in the gnarled and arthritic body of an old woman -- travels through time to Oakland, California, where she opens a shop from which she administers spices as curatives to her customers. An unexpected romance with a handsome stranger eventually forces her to choose between the supernatural life of an immortal and the vicissitudes of modem life. Spellbinding and hypnotizing, The Mistress of Spices is a tale of joy and sorrow and one special woman's magical powers.