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
"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)
Say something about Yusef. Uh...he was a great horn player?
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.
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