Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review: The Sleeping Dictionary by Sujata Massey

Title: The Sleeping Dictionary
Author: Sujata Massey
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Gallery
Publish Date: August 20, 2013
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You love armchair traveling.
What's the Story?:

From "In 1930, a great ocean wave blots out a Bengali village, leaving only one survivor, a young girl. As a maidservant in a British boarding school, Pom is renamed Sarah and discovers her gift for languages. Her private dreams almost die when she arrives in Kharagpur and is recruited into a secretive, decadent world. Eventually, she lands in Calcutta, renames herself Kamala, and creates a new life rich in books and friends. But although success and even love seem within reach, she remains trapped by what she is . . . and is not. As India struggles to throw off imperial rule, Kamala uses her hard-won skills—for secrecy, languages, and reading the unspoken gestures of those around her—to fight for her country’s freedom and her own happiness."

My Two Cents:

"The Sleeping Dictionary" is a sweeping historical-fiction tale about a young woman trying to find her way in India during a time of great change in that particular country. Kamala (called by many other names in the book) knows that she truly has the odds stacked against her at so many stages in her life. This book is her story and it is truly a treat.

Standing at almost 500 pages, this book about one person's life could have gone awry by simply becoming overwhelming and perhaps too drawn out. I can honestly say that this book was gripping throughout. I really, really liked Kamala. Even though she was born to a lowly caste and had her entire family swept away from her, she succeeds because she is so resourceful and so smart. She knows exactly what decisions are going to get her further. Oh and I don't know about you but I really like when people in books are bookish and Kamala is! She teaches herself to read and from that point on, she reads voraciously. There is so much to like about her and I love that the book was told from her point of view. It really allows the reader to get fully entrenched into the story.

India is an absolutely fascinating place to me. I love reading about the country but I have read very little historical fiction about the country and even less about the independence movement. I loved this book for the armchair traveling aspect of this book and all of the historical detail was really wonderful.

Now according to Goodreads, this book is only the first book in a planned series, which was wonderfully exciting news to me. I would love to see what happens to Kamala and her family in the future!



  1. I thought sleeping dictionary was the title given to mistresses of British colonialists pre Indian independence. This story sounds very good.


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