The Sleeping Dictionary

Narrated by: Sneha Mathan
Length: 16 hrs and 15 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (159 ratings)

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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

Critic Reviews

" 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 Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Overly ambitious

After enjoying the Widows of Malabar, I expected a more carefully crafted novel. Instead I found a soap opera. The protagonist overcame so many ridiculous obstacles and went through so many unbelievable ordeals that eventually I lost all interest in her. I found the supporting cast far more interesting.

5 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great entertainment and history.

I'd recommend this but to historical fiction fans, which need new cultural stories. Asia in this period has not been a popular fiction topic, and readers like myself crave cultural backdrops to personal struggle with love and relationships. I'd like to be to listen to perfectly narrated novels of female life stories. I will listen to more by this author.

3 people found this helpful

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One of my all-time favorites

I can listen to this over and over, I absolutely adore this novel and narration!

2 people found this helpful

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  • 04-16-19

Best Author and Narrator Pair!

Sujata Massey is a phenomenal writer, and this is her finest book. Interesting details and incredible description of simple behaviors that make the story come to life. She has so much history packed in one book, but it's never dull or boring for even a moment. You don't want the story to ever end!

Sneha Manthan is an amazing narrator seamlessly transitioning from one character to another in a story with 30+ characters! Her switching between the characters is so real with their voices overlapping as if in true conversation. Her pauses, intonations, and inflections are superb, and she brings the words on paper to life. I especially love the part where one of the characters (Bonnie) is talking with hairpins in her mouth, and Sneha actually narrates it like that! So far the most talented and entertaining narrator on Audible!

1 person found this helpful

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Great story and superb narrator

wow...what a great story and great narration. Sneha did a great job once again....loved the story and her voice.
Tinga

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Some of Sujata Massey's best work.

I have been a fan for years but hesitated to read this story because it wasn't like any of her others, but I was wrong. Fantastically written with a realistic, well-meaning yet flawed main character. A story of personal growth and acceptance. Full of passion in all it's forms.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of her best yet

Wow, what a great story. This will keep you on the edge of your seat. There are many twists and turns in the life of the main character but Sujata Massey writes with such great character detail, you really develop empathy for the main characters. Their lives are both tragic and redemptive. You will cry with them and cheer when they succeed. Ms Massey has a talent for exploring the many challenges faced by women of the period, but written in a way that female readers of today can identify with.

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Loved this book and the performer

I was literally swept away by this book. What a grand narrative development told from the perspective of a young girl whose world expands in tandem with the great historical events in India and the world in the first half of the twentieth century.

You will love the way the author plus performer brings these characters to life. You will experience a full range of emotions from family love, passion, grief, curiosity, terror, resilience, self-reliance, and the height of joy.

A very satisfying ending.