The Mistress of Spices

Registered by Koalabare of Fetcham, Surrey United Kingdom on 2/8/2004
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
15 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Koalabare from Fetcham, Surrey United Kingdom on Sunday, February 08, 2004
An Indian wise-woman runs a spice shop in America, dispensing wisdom and magic for the needs of her customers along with their spices.

I really enjoyed this book - a good mix of fantasy, mystery and romance sitting alongside a description of the Indian community in America.

Will make you examine the contents of your spice rack more closely as well!

I'm sending this on a bookring...more details soon

Journal Entry 2 by Koalabare from Fetcham, Surrey United Kingdom on Sunday, February 15, 2004
The final list is below:

Nyassa - UK
Mytilusgirl - UK
Hengameh - Iran
Katayoun - Iran
RoryG - Finland
Rslicer - US - Now known as Bountifulpots!
Catwoman - Canada
Bookczuk - US
SqueakyChu - US (Skipped)
MaryZee - US
Zmrzlina - US
Mssaver - US

Rhythmbiscuit - US
Soongsis2 - Singapore
Lpree - US

Now returning to me in the UK!

There are no hard and fast rules, except to keep the book moving, as we all know how frustrating it is when a book gets 'stuck' somewhere!
If you think you'll be longer than about a month reading the book, please let the next person on the list know.
If you think that you'll be considerably longer than a month reading it (e.g. if your book backlog is so great you can't get through the front door - I know the problem ;-) ) - then please PM me and l'll shuffle you down the list, postal preferences allowing!

Anyone new who joins will be added to the end of the list, and will have to ship either back to me in the UK or on to the next person, wherever they may be.

Other than that, please journal when you recieve it and let us know what you think. Enjoy! :-)

Released on Tuesday, February 17, 2004 at Sent to a bookcrosser in Royal Mail, City of London, England United Kingdom.

Starting its journey!

Off to Nyassa!

Journal Entry 4 by nyassa from Deal, Kent United Kingdom on Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Arrived in the post today, many thanks Koalabare!

Journal Entry 5 by nyassa from Deal, Kent United Kingdom on Wednesday, March 17, 2004
I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has a mystical/magical feel about it which I thought at first would be very similar to Joanne Harris's Chocolat, but I found it very much better. I also enjoy reading about other cultures so the glimpses we have of the Indian community in America are interesting.

Sorry to have taken so long over this. I had hoped to finish it before we went on holiday but the best laid schemes of mice and men ....

Journal Entry 6 by Mytilus from Plymouth, Devon United Kingdom on Saturday, March 20, 2004
Arrived today. Good timing, as I'd just finished another bookring book this morning!

Thanks nyassa.

Journal Entry 7 by Mytilus from Plymouth, Devon United Kingdom on Wednesday, March 24, 2004
An extremely unusual and enjoyable take of a love story. Beautifully written and structured.

Sent today to Hengameh.

Journal Entry 8 by Hengameh from Tehran, Tehran Iran on Tuesday, April 20, 2004
got it.thanks.

Journal Entry 9 by Hengameh from Tehran, Tehran Iran on Thursday, May 13, 2004
i'm so sorry that it took so long. i'm in the middle of this nice book. i'll write more when i'm finished.

Journal Entry 10 by wingkatayounwing from Tehran, Tehran Iran on Tuesday, May 25, 2004
hengameh dropped the book at my house on her way to work! YES she woke me up :) will read as soon as i finish the book i'm reading.

Journal Entry 11 by wingkatayounwing from Tehran, Tehran Iran on Tuesday, June 01, 2004
well the book is finished and on it's way to finland and RoryG. and thanks Koalabare for the ring.
so about the book, most i the time i really liked the book and there were times when i positively loved it and some very rare moments when i found it a bit froced maybe, especially the times when the mistress talked to herself about the raven. on the whole a very good book and a most enjoyable read. thanks alot for this bookring

Journal Entry 12 by RoryG from Palmdale, California USA on Friday, June 18, 2004
Just got the book today in my hands. I only receive my post on weekends because of some arrangements for my summer job. Thanks to Koalabare for organizing the ring and Katayoun for sending the book!

Journal Entry 13 by RoryG from Palmdale, California USA on Thursday, July 01, 2004
I found this one hard to get into at first. But after 50 pages or so, I started liking it. It wasn't quite a book that I couldn't put down, but I enjoyed it a lot. I felt that the book was a lot about forgiveness and how hard it is and that really appealed to me.

Well, since Co-Ste didn't want to receive more books at the moment, this one is going to Bountifulpots across the Atlantic as soon as I get to the post office. Enjoy!

I'm sorry, it took awhile to get this to mail, but I sent it on its way yesterday (8th July).

Journal Entry 14 by wingBountifulPotswing from Olathe, Kansas USA on Monday, July 26, 2004
Just received this today. I'm so anxious to read it, I've been looking forward to this one! I have one ring book before it, and then I will get to it. Will journal again once I've finished.

Journal Entry 15 by wingBountifulPotswing from Olathe, Kansas USA on Monday, September 13, 2004
I just realized I never journaled this one! I adored this book. I have to admit, it sucked me in, and once I was able to get to it, I devoured it. The imagery is all right there, and I could picture most of the details. It was one that was predictable in it's way, but didn't give you all of its secrets until the very end, which I love. This has already been sent on to the next person, so it should get there shortly. I am jealous of all of you who have yet to read it and experience this for the first time.

Journal Entry 16 by Catwoman from Sherwood Park, Alberta Canada on Monday, September 20, 2004
Arrived in the mail today. I've been looking forward to reading this one for a while. After reviewing all of the journal entries, I see that I am in for a treat. Starting this today.

Journal Entry 17 by Catwoman from Sherwood Park, Alberta Canada on Monday, September 27, 2004
I figured that I'd get through this book fairly quickly. However, when I started to read it, I realized that it wasn't one that I should rush through. I consciously made myself slow down and read it all (I tend to read some parts of books really fast), and was rewarded for doing so. Thanks for sharing this book with me. I'll be sending it on to bookczuk as soon as I get to the post office.

Journal Entry 18 by Catwoman at on Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Released 15 yrs ago (9/29/2004 UTC) at



Mailed to bookczuk today.

Journal Entry 19 by wingbookczukwing from Charleston, South Carolina USA on Thursday, October 07, 2004
Oh! This lovely book arrived today. I am tempted to start reading it immediately, but owe it to the two books I am currently reading to finish them first before starting another. I am not going to even allow myself the pleasure of reading the journal notes until I finish at least one of the other two.

Thank you Koalabare for starting the ring, and Catwoman for sending it on to me. I am a quick reader so hopefully it won't be too long before I get to it.

Pictured: Students at St John's school

Journal Entry 20 by wingbookczukwing from Charleston, South Carolina USA on Sunday, October 10, 2004
Bookczuk reporting in as promised:

Just started this book and already love it. I sped through the other two books, both of which were also good, knowing I had this waiting for me as dessert. Just thinking about it made me prepare a biryani for our supper last night. For recipes, click here. (Mine come from a collection I gathered when I lived in India- so I hope these are as good!)

Pictured: Spice walla (seller) at the bazaar.

Journal Entry 21 by wingbookczukwing from Charleston, South Carolina USA on Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Finished this just moments ago, and want to try and record my thoughts. The opening of the book just reached out and pulled me in. I am not sure if it is all the time I spent in India, all the Indian friends I have in America, my love of the magical or my love and strong interest in healing. Probably all of the above. One of my favorite things was right off- the warning that "the spices described in this book should be taken only under the supervision of a qualified Mistress." Who could resist a preface like that? Or later, when Kwesi is telling his story, telling how he went to the man who would become his sensei and held a gun to his head. "But he wasn't scared. He said Why don't you come in , I've just brewed some Japanses tea, you can always shoot me afterward." The author has a gift of catching in a phrase an evocative image.. the water music of her bangles...

This is ultimately a book of stories of everyday lives and loves, mixed with a little magic and mystery- the spice of life.

Squeakychu asked to be skipped in the ring so will be sending this on to MaryZee. The picture in the journal is of a samadhi (tomb) near where I used to live in India, when I worked at a health clinic there. It, too, is an area blessed in magic and seeped in faith.

Journal Entry 22 by Koalabare from Fetcham, Surrey United Kingdom on Thursday, October 14, 2004
Thanks bookczuk for the journal entry pictures :)

Glad you enjoyed it!

Journal Entry 23 by wingmaryzeewing from Taneytown, Maryland USA on Thursday, October 21, 2004
Received this in the mail, with a box of books for the bookfair/OBCZ. Thanks so much, Bookczuk!!!

I'll read this one soon, but I have one other bookring in front of it. I'll update here when I start on this one.

11/5/04 - Starting on this today.

Journal Entry 24 by wingmaryzeewing from Taneytown, Maryland USA on Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Lovely, magical book. I've never read anything like this before - the language just flows.
Koalabare, thanks for sharing this, and BookCzuk, thanks for sending it my way!

Sending this off to Zmrzlina on Friday, 11/12.

Journal Entry 25 by Zmrzlina from Abington, Massachusetts USA on Sunday, January 09, 2005
After reading about half this book, I put it down because I found myself annoyed by the magical realism. This has often been the case and I am beginning to think I should just avoid such tales. I did pick the book up and finish it, but didn't really follow the story of immigrant life as well as I might have if told from a less mystical viewpoint. Still, I am glad I read it and perhaps when my life is not so hectic I would enjoy it again for the imagery and language alone.

As soon as I have the address, this is off to the next person on the list. Thank you Koalabare for organizing this ring.

Journal Entry 26 by mssaver from Chicago, Illinois USA on Saturday, January 15, 2005
Woo hoo! I got the book and could hardly wait to start reading it. It's fascinating!

I just realized that I didn't make release notes when I sent this book on to rhythmbiscuit. It is stunning! I love this sort of combination of earthiness and mysticism. Many Indian and Latin American writers do it so well, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni seems to be one of them. I'm so glad you started this bookring, Koalabare!

Journal Entry 27 by rhythmbiscuit from Northglenn, Colorado USA on Sunday, February 06, 2005
I received the book. Thank you! I have two bookrays ahead of this one, but I will start reading Mistress of Spices as soon as possible.

Journal Entry 28 by rhythmbiscuit from Northglenn, Colorado USA on Thursday, March 03, 2005
I started reading this book last night. Thank you for your patience.

Journal Entry 29 by rhythmbiscuit from Northglenn, Colorado USA on Thursday, March 17, 2005
I misplaced this book for a while. It turned out to be on the floor behind my bed; I guess it must have slipped there one night after I read in bed! So now that it has turned up, I have started reading it again.

Journal Entry 30 by rhythmbiscuit at on Sunday, April 03, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (4/1/2005 UTC) at



I mailed this book to soongsis.

Journal Entry 31 by Soongsis2 on Monday, May 30, 2005
Finally! Arrived safe and sound today...

Updates: 2nd June 2005
I enjoyed the first half of the book tremendously. Am a sucker for this genre of books - magic realism - so Mistress of Spices was right on the mark for me. In the beginning. The description of the spices and their magical properties was spell-binding.

However, I felt the 2nd half of the book degenerated into a soppy "Mills & Boons" romance between Tilo and Raven. Strip away all layers of magic spells, childhood trauma etc, you'll end up with a typical story of how the cold-hearted (but rich and powerful playboy!) man found himself redemned and become a better person when he falls in love with a woman that he normally would not (and throw in a transformation of the ugly duckling into a swan). So trite!

It's a pity the romance left me cold, as it made the story so unsatisfying for me. Still, the spices redemmed the ratings for the book. Thanks Koalabare for sharing this book.

I have Lpree's address and will mail this book out by next week. Cheers!

Updates: 10th June 2005
Sent the book off to Lpree via airmail today. Happy reading!

Journal Entry 32 by Lpree from Omaha, Nebraska USA on Wednesday, June 29, 2005
This arrived in today's mail. Yay! I've just heard this book referenced again in the last few days, so I'm now even more eager to read this. I have a couple other books ahead of it, but will read it as soon as I can.

Journal Entry 33 by Lpree from Omaha, Nebraska USA on Monday, July 18, 2005
I finished this over the weekend. This was a really interesting story and left me guessing up until the very end. I loved all the meaning behind the spices and the touch of magic in the story.

I'll get this mailed back to Koalabare soon! Thanks very much for starting this ring!

** Sent surface mail to Koalabare on 7/23 **

Journal Entry 34 by Koalabare from Fetcham, Surrey United Kingdom on Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Mistress has returned home - thank you Lpree for sending it on, and to all of you for your comments, thoughts and pictures. I've been wanting to re-read this again solely on the strength of how others have read into the story :)

This is now going back for a well-deserved rest on my bookshelf, but as a postscript, I have another book by Divakaruni - 'Sister of My Heart' - waiting to be read, so if anyone's interested, let me know and I can maybe do another ring for that one.

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