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The Sleeping Dictionary | [Sujata Massey]

The Sleeping Dictionary

The term "sleeping dictionary" was coined for young Indian women who slept with British men and educated them in the ways of India. Set between 1925 and the end of World War II, The Sleeping Dictionary is the story of Kamala, born to a peasant family in West Bengal, who makes her way to Calcutta of the 1930s. Haunted by a forbidden love, she is caught between the raging independence movement and the British colonial society she finds herself inhabiting.
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Publisher's Summary

The term "sleeping dictionary" was coined for young Indian women who slept with British men and educated them in the ways of India. Set between 1925 and the end of World War II, The Sleeping Dictionary is the story of Kamala, born to a peasant family in West Bengal, who makes her way to Calcutta of the 1930s. Haunted by a forbidden love, she is caught between the raging independence movement and the British colonial society she finds herself inhabiting. This portrait of late Raj India is both a saga and a passionate love story.

©2013 Sujata Massey (P)2013 Dreamscape Media, LLC

What the Critics Say

"The Sleeping Dictionary, an utterly engrossing tale of love, espionage, betrayal, and survival, is historical fiction at its best, accessible to all audiences." (Booklist)

"A love story richly woven with India's history and struggle for independence, The Sleeping Dictionary took me on captivating journey through one woman's devastation, resilience, truth and triumph." (Lisa Genova, New York Times best-selling author of Still Alice and Love Anthony.)

"The Sleeping Dictionary is the book that Sujata Massey was meant to write - an ambitious story of suspense and love and identity, rendered in lush, captivating language. To read it is to step into a fast-moving time machine that delivers us to places and events that will be new to many readers. An exciting, bold work." (Laura Lippman, New York Times best-selling author of And When She Was Good)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    K Cornwinkle Plumville, CA USA 09-26-13
    K Cornwinkle Plumville, CA USA 09-26-13 Member Since 2015

    !!!

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    Story
    "It is a romance but..."

    the setting and events of pre-partition India (1930-1947), mainly Calcutta, and the early horrifying picaresque plot take it farther.

    The heroine, born Pom, is terrifically honorable yet she is tormented throughout by having to keep her origins and early life a secret. A few easily swallowed implausibilities in her early life kept me aware that this was fiction. Lovely descriptions of her world -colors, scents, textures, food. The hero is missing some dimensionality -while she does describe him, I found I could not picture him and his origins and early motivations -he works for what is in part a secret police organization- are not revealed

    I sometimes felt that I was being told the story by someone who, had been part of the Brahmin elite and was somehow narrating someone else's story rather than someone who rose from a very low caste. In a way, it is a credit to Sujata Massey, who did not live in this culture or near this era that she channels the product of some elite Indian boarding school.

    Glad I read it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    erudite 04-24-15
    erudite 04-24-15

    Loves books

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    "Story kept my interest. Excellent narration."

    Set in Bengal the years before and up to Indian Independence (Pom, Sarah, Pamela, Camilla,) this is a tale about Kamala's search for safe haven. The characters, while not as rich or well developed, were interesting enough to keep me listening to the book. The story is about Kamala, so perhaps the other characters did not need to be as well developed.

    Liked it well enough to look up other books by Sujata Massey.

    The narration by Sneha Mathan was fabulous. Will need to look for books that she has narrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Abby 04-04-15
    Abby 04-04-15 Member Since 2014
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    "My fascination"

    With India continues to flourish. This book has a perfect mix of the history of India's rush to independence from the British and a heart wrenching story of one woman's ordeal from childhood .....(spoiler). Fabulous narration !

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    mamab56 01-13-15
    mamab56 01-13-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Wonderful story!"

    This was a compelling story, richly describing the reality of tragedy, hardship, injustice, strength, and hope during the time of British rule in India. Pom's journey is heartbreaking, but riveting. I recommend this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 12-05-14
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 12-05-14
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    "A companion of Letters"
    What did you love best about The Sleeping Dictionary?

    I loved the vivid descriptions of India, both before and during the war. I wish there were more well-rounded male characters, but that's a minor quibble. Massey has a wonderful gift of language.


    What does Sneha Mathan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I love love LOVE this narrator... I would read just about anything she performs!


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoyed this book immensely, more as a character development than a plot-driven one - the plot relies on a couple of coincidences that might have, in less skillful hands, caused me to put the book down. But Massey can turn a phrase with a poetic ring that does not dip down to sentimentalism.

    There are portions that are difficult to read, but not explicit for their own sake; I had concerns about this based on the synopsis regarding what a "sleeping dictionary" is. I am glad that this book is so well-done and well-read!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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