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The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni


As the name suggests, it is a story of a Mistress of Spices! Sounded interesting hence I chose this one to read. It is written by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni who also wrote “Arranged Marriage”, a book which I honestly did not know until I read this title.

Mistress of Spices is a story of a girl who is born to poor parents and regarded as a one who will again put her parents in misery as they will have to pay dowry. Little did they know at the time of her birth that she is born with supernatural powers of foreseeing future. As her fame spread, pirates hear about her and abducts her one day! However, she was powerful enough to overthrow the chief and became the queen of pirates. She was not satisfied and when in search of peace, she comes to an island where she is to become the Mistress of Spices under the rigorous training of First Mother.

The First Mother teaches her along with other girls all about the Spices. These spices are later to be used to cure other peoples’ misery when given to them with the magical chants. Once she manages to learn all those Special Powers, she is to run a Spice Store in Oakland. She is given the name ‘Tilo’. Tilo should never leave the store, she should never use the powers for herself but for others to help and last but not the least she should not make any physical contact with any human being. As the story progresses, readers find smaller stories intertwined where Tilo uses her powers to help others. While helping others, she is so taken into it that one after another she starts breaking the forbidden rules laid for Mistresses. Not only she breaks rules but she also allows herself to fall in love with a lonely American. Once she does that, there is no looking back even though the Spices punish her, First Mother warns her of the outcomes……she overrules all, the adamant, obstinate TILO.

Does she succeed in finding her true love, what happens exactly when she breaks all rules, how do spices punish her, who is the lonely American, how does she help the miserable through her special powers? All this and more in the novel where each chapter is named after a Spice :)….I wished and imagined also if actually one can use the spices available in the kitchen the way it is used in the Book :D. The book is a good read for all those who believe in Magic and also for those who don’t for you can always enjoy the other aspects. How does Tilo re-emerges as “Maya” in the end is for you to read. It is an interesting story of magical powers of a woman who uses her powers to help others and self and finally re-emerges as Maya. A story of a woman who dares to taste the forbidden! Whether she succeeds or not in her search & unknown desires is for the readers to find out.

Ginger Chai verdict – Read it in leisure and you may be compelled to complete it at the earliest.

0 05 July, 2010 Books July 5, 2010

About the author

A Chartered Accountant by profession who enjoys writing or should we say keying ?! in her free time.

View all articles by Divya


  1. Anney

    Truely a good and compelling review…just like the movie, it stopped where I had last seen…got to see the movie till end and got to get that book 🙂

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  3. Vidya Sury

    Its a nice story, per se. But the movie, as Lazy Pineapple said, was zzzz. 😀 Not a fan of Aish anyway. The hero Dylan McDermott was cool, though. And love Ayesha Dharker. By the way – “Outsourced” – where Ayesha plays the lead was a superb movie.

  4. Divya

    yeah, I got to know after reading the book only that it was made into a movie as well….with Ash in lead!! Thought of watching it but going by the reviews here I doubt if I should watch it :sidefrown: …..somehow i literally wished after reading the book that the spices should actually start speaking when I go inside the Kitchen :evilgrin:

  5. gayatri

    nice review. have only seen the movie, and before Ash could found her true love the movie lost me 😀 but its the same with many book adaptations isnt it. they turn out something else on the big screen.

  6. Sakhi

    Nice review. I keep considering reading this book (I am a fan of the author and this is her most famous book but I cannot bring myself to read it because of the movie, which frankly was awful) but I’m considering it now.

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