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Sister India by Peggy Payne
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Sister India

by Peggy Payne

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1151156,603 (2.98)5
  1. 10
    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (TomWaitsTables)
  2. 00
    India: A Sacred Geography by Diana L. Eck (Anonymous user)
  3. 00
    Banaras by Diana L. Eck (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Provides more information on the city of Banaras along the Ganges River, the setting for Payne's novel.
  4. 00
    Encountering God by Diana L. Eck (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Provides information, explanation, and many colorful photos of religious practices and locations throughout India.
  5. 00
    Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India by Diana L. Eck (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Explains and describes the importance of the religious devotee seeing an image of God in ritual and worship, and the meaning of God seeing the devotee in return, as in a memorable scene from Payne's novel.
  6. 00
    Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (Anonymous user)
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» See also 5 mentions

Dreamy, hypnotic, magical, the story flowed so easily that I had a hard time putting it down. There is the main character's 1st-person narrative of what she sees, hears, thinks, feels and remembers set against the troubles of several guests in her boarding house (their parts are in your typical 3rd-person omniscient narrative). While I almost always dislike 1st-person narrative, I was captivated by this one right from the start. You are gradually exposed to the "mystery" behind the main character and at times what is past and what is present wavers back and forth in her mind with no clear-cut distinction between them. This is where the dreamy-hypnotic feeling really shines. It feels natural, like a stream of consciousness, just how my mind works. The descriptions of daily life along the shore of the Ganges River in the holy city of Benares are incredibly rich but none are extraneous. There are no lengthy descriptions of clouds, mountains, clothing, etc. that are unnecessary, such as bog down so many other novels (IMO). The images conjured up will stay with me a long time. The conclusion to the story is fitting given the style of writing, the topics presented, and the mystery behind the main character. It doesn't conclude like your average formulaic story does, but rather it simply flows on past you, the reader, as if you are standing on the shore of the river, watching the boats go by. I found myself getting teary-eyed by the beauty and promise of that. If you've liked Jhumpa Lahiri's "Interpreter of Maladies" or enjoyed the hypnotic flashback style of the cinematic version of "The English Patient," I think you'll like this one too. ( )
  seongeona | Jun 28, 2012 |
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For my parents, Margaret and Harry Payne, and for Laurel Goldman
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I am the keeper of a small guest house in the holiest city in India.
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I came here imagining a water garden, people of a thousand different sects living in quiet harmony, with their doll-like god-figures blessing every act of life. It was a child's dream of Eden.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Travelers become captives in the Saraswati Guest House when inter-religious violence traps them in the ancient town of Varanasi, India, on the sacred Ganges River with the eccentric guest-house keeper, Madame Natraja.

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