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The Mistress of Spices

A Novel

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Magical, tantalizing, and sensual, The Mistress of Spices is the story of Tilo, a young woman born in another time, in a faraway place, who is trained in the ancient art of spices and ordained as a mistress charged with special powers.  Once fully initiated in a rite of fire, the now immortal Tilo--in the gnarled and arthritic body of an old woman--travels through time to Oakland, California, where she opens a shop from which she administers spices as curatives to her customers.  An unexpected romance with a handsome stranger eventually forces her to choose between the supernatural life of an immortal and the vicissitudes of modern life.  Spellbinding and hypnotizing, The Mistress of Spices is a tale of joy and sorrow and one special woman's magical powers.

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, born in India, is an award-winning poet who teaches creative writing at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California, where she also serves as president of MAITRI, a helpline for South Asian women.  In 1995 her short story collection Arranged Marriage was awarded the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Prize for Fiction, the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award for Fiction, and an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.  Her fourth poetry collection, Leaving Yuba City, was published by Anchor in August 1997.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Publishers Weekly Review

Feb 02, 1997 – Carving a fresh niche in the genre of literary romance, Divakaruni, author of the praised short-story collection Arranged Marriage (1995), has written an ambitious first novel that injects magic and mysticism into a contemporary urban setting. The narrator, born in India with supernatural gifts, has learned the secret powers of spices. Upon taking her vows as a Mistress of Spices, Tilo is granted immortality on several conditions, one being that she must never succumb to carnal desires. Emerging from a ritual fire, Tilo is transformed into an old, ugly woman, the proprietor of a spice store in a seedy area of Oakland, Calif. Because she can see into the minds and hearts of her customers, Tilo is able to recommended spices that can help them surmount their sorrows and fulfill their hopes. (Divakaruni's poetic descriptions of a myriad array of spices are a fascinating mixture of superstition and homeopathic medicine.) But when handsome Raven walks into her store, Tilo immediately falls in love with him. Suddenly vulnerable, she decides to transform herself into a young woman in order to enjoy a night of love with Raven. Divakaruni writes lush prose with which she infuses the mundane with magic. Like Bharati Mukherjee, she perceptively depicts a cross-section of the Indian immigrant community trapped between traditional values and the American dream. Unfortunately, the love story a variant of the frog prince myth in which the frog is TiloDis fatally undermined by the character of Raven, who is a stick figure constructed around a plot device. His immediate attraction to the elderly Tilo is never credible, and the dialogue he speaks is so artificial it can make one cringe. Major ad/promo; excerpt in D magazine; author tour.

Customer Reviews

Love the book

I loved the book and what it was based on. A girl who had the power to tell where stuff are and what your spice is it was really interesting!

The Mistress of Spices
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Feb 17, 1997
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 352 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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