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.
“An unusual, clever, and often exquisite first novel...The result is rather as if Isabel Allende met Laura Esquivel.”—Los Angeles Times
“Divakaruni’s prose is so pungent that it stains the page, yet beneath the sighs and smells of this brand of magic realism she deftly introduces her true theme: how an ability to accommodate desire enlivens not only the individual heart but a society cornered by change.”—The New Yorker
“The Mistress of Spices is a dazzling tale of misbegotten dreams and desires, hopes and expectations, woven with poetry and storyteller magic.”—Amy Tan
“A splendid novel, beautifully conceived and crafted.”—Pat Conroy
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the bestselling author of the novels The Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart, and The Vine of Desire; the story collections Arranged Marriage, which received several awards, including the American Book Award; and four collections of prize-winning poetry. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Ms., The Best American Short Stories 1999, and other publications. Born in India, she lives in the San Francisco area.