Customer Reviews for

The Sleeping Dictionary

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
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  • Posted May 1, 2015

    This is a wonderful book! Beautifully written!  I couldn't put i

    This is a wonderful book! Beautifully written!  I couldn't put it down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2014

    Please not another harriet. too long of a review is so

    Down putting. would have been best to actually mention the place india in the first sentence of nine pages. Read this as borrow from library. Its a good womans read typical steel or bechly but in exotic place translate this to victorian england as a couple of other books lately have and you see what i mean. sorta of a dickens flavor but girl instead of boy mix of david copperfield and great expectations plus m.a.@sparta

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  • Posted July 2, 2014

    To say that I fell in love with this book is not an exaggeration

    To say that I fell in love with this book is not an exaggeration. It is one of the most beautifully written, soulful stories that I’ve had the pleasure to read. There are those books that are so special, so captivating, that you know it will forever be a part of you, and you will be perpetually indebted to is author for its creation. Where were the Pulitzer people last year when this book was published? Sujat Massey knows how to start a book, end a book, and, so importantly, how to include the perfect amount of story between beginning and ending. In her comments about writing The Sleeping Dictionary, Sujata admits that there was some extraneous material she had thought of including, but, thankfully, through her good sense and astute editors, she pared it down to what makes it a novel of exquisite style and content, avoiding a cumbersome tome of good and bad. It is simply the good, and the good is great.

    The Sleeping Dictionary is a profoundly moving story of heartbreak, courage, loyalty, betrayal, love, hate, loss, recovery, hope, despair, and victory against the odds. It is historically epic, taking place over the last seventeen years of the British Raj rule in India, which began in 1858 and ended in 1947. Massey shows us how much more it was than just the British oppressing the Indians, how the caste system marked its people, and how the interaction of Muslims, Indians, and Anglo-Indians all played a part in limiting its native-born citizens and freeing them, too. This fascinating story follows an Indian girl from the age of 10 through 27, showing the transformation from one identity to another as Kamala struggles to survive and find some meaning in her existence in a world that itself is rapidly changing. It will literally captured my heart and made me ache for the cruelties Kamala suffered along her journey. Her resilience is an amazing feat to follow.

    “You ask for my name, the real one, and I cannot tell. It is not for lack of effort.”
    1930 finds ten-year-old Pom living with her family in the small Bengali village of Johlpur, where her father farms rice for a landlord. Although her Hindu family is poor and low in the caste system of India, there are many poorer. Her family has just recently been blessed with the birth of a boy, the first in her family, and life is considered good. But, Pom’s world is literally turned upside down when a tidal wave wipes out everyone in her village but her. Near death herself, she is discovered by a Muslim man who works for a girls’ school some distance away. She ends up working as a servant at the school, where her name is changed by the headmistress to Sarah, as a more appropriate name for her surroundings. It is the first of several name changes and identities she will assume. Life is often cruel for the young Indian girl at Lockwood School, but it is also the place where she learns English, develops a love of reading, and makes a friend who has an important impact. It is the first stop in an education of both the good and the bad in life. Her next life experience will prove to be almost unbearable, but she keeps her eye on Calcutta and the hope it holds for a better life. Her name changes with her different identities and experiences, and she will go from Sarah to Pamela to Kamala, her final name, before the story ends. Kamala’s story is entwined with the liberation of India from the British, and, as a result, is in flux with the events of that historic time. Like all great historical fiction, readers will be affected by a desire to learn even more about colonial India and its long fought for freedom. Through Kamala’s life, I was able to encounter the different elements, good and bad, that was India during this period. Her courage and resolve are indicative of a nation fighting for its release to self government.

    I was first intrigued by the name of this book and its beautiful cover, and upon finding out to what the title referred, I was sure that this was a book I wanted to read. I was rewarded with a setting, cast of characters, and story that would mesmerize me from beginning to end. The author includes a Hindi/Bengali/English glossary and a cast of characters description section. Though the glossary might at first appear daunting, it is not, and I found it essentially helpful and never distracting. I thank Sujata for writing this book that has so enriched my reading life and given me a favorite for the ages. When you read this novel, don’t be surprised that you will want everyone you know to read this amazing book, knowing that their lives will never be complete unless they do.

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