The beloved characters of Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s bestselling novel Sister of My Heart are reunited in this powerful narrative that challenges the emotional bond between two lifelong friends, as the husband of one becomes dangerously attracted to the other.
Anju and Sudha formed an astounding, almost psychic connection during their childhood in India. When Anju invites Sudha, a single mother in Calcutta, to come live with her and her husband, Sunil, in California, Sudha foolishly accepts, knowing full well that Sunil has long desired her. As Sunil’s attraction rises to the surface, the trio must struggle to make sense of the freedoms of America–and of the ties that bind them to India and to one another.
The Vine of Desire is peopled by Indian immigrants and--just as palpably--by their hopes and dreams. As one character says, "All immigrants are dreamers, but they're practical about it. They know what's OK to dream about, and what isn't." Though it's a sequel to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's Sister of My Heart, the novel stands alone as an exploration of the contemporary immigrant experience. Anju and Sudha, cousins and best friends since their Calcutta girlhood, find themselves in the Bay Area, Anju with a husband and Sudha with a baby daughter. Each covets what the other has until finally their relationship collapses. Anju finds solace among her fellow Berkeley students, while the beautiful Sudha learns, for the first time, what it's like to pay her own way. Digressive and overwritten, The Vine of Desire can try your patience, but it's so well plotted and compassionately told that you can't help but care about these immigrant dreams. --Claire Dederer