Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: The Mistress of Spices

Book: The Mistress of Spices by

The Mistress of Spices

Review: Having seen parts of the movie, I was curious to read the book. The book, written in first person, starts off with the protagonist, Tilo, explaining about her life before she became a spice mistress. She goes on about how she was born special, amassed wealth, became a pirate queen, spoke to serpents and then swam to an island to learn to become a spice mistress. Whew!

The major part of the book concentrates on how Tilo, as a spice mistress is supposed to help Indians (yes, only Indians, as at one place it is clearly said that others have their own people to help) wherever she lands. Tilo lands in USA! Surprise! Surprise! The book goes on and on about the problems faced by the Indian community in the US, about the eternal tug of war between your roots and the culture where you currently reside and about Tilo's lust for an American.

A large part of the book focuses on Tilo's 'love' for an American, who she is first attracted to as he is wearing nice clothes! Also, there is a lot of focus on spice mistress rules; thou shall never leave your store, thou shall live like an old woman, thou shall
not get too involved, thou shall never touch another person.. and on and on.. There is no explanation though of why these rules exist.

What I didn't like about the book was - Tilo. She is portrayed as a very very flawed character who is proud, rebellious, a know-it-all and not really a nice person. She tries to rationalize all the times she breaks rules by the 'it's not for me, its for others' logic. The author was probably trying to show that all of us have a dark side, but i think she went a little overboard, making Tilo thoroughly unlikeable. What I also don't understand is the fairytale type thought process, where despite of all her flaws, everyone loves Tilo a lot and forgives her everything! This really does not happen.

All in all a not so great read with its long-winding prose, but others might enjoy the book as it talks about the "exotic Indian culture"

Rating: 1.5/5

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