Bridging past and present
In her sensuous and poetic new novel, Queen of Dreams, critically acclaimed author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni explores the psychic connections and hidden truths dreams can reveal about our inner and outer worlds. The same beguiling blend of magical realism and vivid imagery that attracted readers to her previous novels such as The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart infuses this absorbing modern-day tale of family, identity and personal transformation with a mystical, otherworldly quality. Rakhi, a newly divorced young mother, artist and co-proprietor of a floundering tea shop in Berkeley, struggles to find her place in life amid a sea of upheaval and a profound sense of disconnection from her Indian heritage. Troubled by the emotional distance of her parents and their enigmatic early life in India prior to immigrating to California, Rakhi remains anchored in the mysteries of the past, unable to gain a footing in the present. She tries unsuccessfully to bridge the gap with her mother, a dreamteller born with the ability to experience and interpret dreams. It is only through a tragic turn of events that Rakhi is able to unlock the secrets of the past and open herself up to the possibilities of the future. Deftly weaving the magical with the realistic, and the modern with the ancient, the novel leads us on a bewitching voyage of discovery. From the pages of the journals, the truth emerges about the great sacrifice Rakhi's mother was forced to make in order to retain her rare gift. With these revelations come changes in both Rakhi and her father as they work together to repair their troubled relationship and to reinvent the struggling tea shop. Insightfully conveying the nuances of cultural, emotional and familial discord, Queen of Dreams illuminates the resonance of the past on the present and the role of forgiveness in self-discovery. Divakaruni is a spellbinding storyteller whose lush language and inventive imagination transport us on an enlightening journey of transition, transformation and rebirth. Joni Rendon writes from Hoboken, New Jersey.