The Toss of A Lemon

The Toss of A Lemon

Book - 2008
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In a fiction debut to rival The God of Small Things, Padma Viswanathan gives us a richly detailed and intimate vision of an India we've never seen. Inspired by her family history, Padma Viswanathan brings us deep inside the private lives of a Brahmin family as the subcontinent moves through sixty years of intense social and political change. At the novel's heart is Sivakami, a captivating girl-child married at ten to an astrologer and village healer who is drawn to her despite his horoscope, which foretells an early death-depending on how the stars align when their children are born. All is safe with their daughter's birth, but their second child, a son named Vairum, fulfills the prophecy: by eighteen, the child bride Sivakami is a widow with two young children. According to the dictates of her caste, her head is shaved and she must don the widow's white sari. From dawn to dusk, she is not allowed to contaminate herself with human touch, not even to comfort her small children. She dutifully follows custom, except for one act of rebellion: she insists on a secular education for her troubled son. While her choice ensures that Vairum fulfills his promise in a modernizing India, it also sets Sivakami on a collision course with him. Vairum, fatherless in childhood, childless as an adult, rejects the caste identity that is his mother's mainstay, twisting their fates in fascinating and unbearable ways. The Toss of a Lemon is heartbreaking and exhilarating, profoundly exotic and yet utterly recognizable in evoking the tensions that changebrings to every family's doorstep. It is also the debut of a major new voice in world fiction.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2008
ISBN: 9780307356321
Branch Call Number: FIC VIS
Characteristics: 619 p. ; 24 cm

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indigo33
Sep 07, 2014

This novel is similar in tone to "War and Peace," but set in India and with bright splashes of metaphoric, magic realism. Although centered more around the women-world instead of the man-world, both male and female characters are excellent. Every character is presented just as they are, and it is left to the reader to judge them (or not.) Every detail rings true to the heart and mind.

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HilarySquires
Jun 28, 2013

What a great book! Before I started reading it, I read comments from others that the family names were sometimes difficult to keep straight. So I made my own family tree on paper as I read it. That way, I was able to see all the relationships clearly despite the challenging Indian names.

a
azor
Dec 07, 2011

This went on and on. I loved parts of it, but it was more a history than a story.

mayfairlady Nov 02, 2010

family saga that would have been easier to keep track of if a family tree were provided

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