This reading group guide for The Sleeping Dictionary includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Sujata Massey. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
When a tidal wave wipes out a tiny village on Bengal’s southwest coast, a young girl known as Pom is set adrift in the world. Found near death by a charitable British headmistress and her chauffeur, Abbas, Pom is christened Sarah and becomes a servant at the Lockwood School for British and upper-caste Indian girls. When Bidushi Mukherjee, whose family owned Sarah’s home village, arrives at the school, Sarah believes she’s found a true friend. Bidushi is engaged to a handsome young lawyer, Pankaj Bandophadhyay, and the two girls dream that Sarah will become Bidushi’s personal ayah after Bidushi marries. Sadly, Bidushi succumbs to malaria, and Sarah is accused of theft and runs away. With the help of Abbas, she makes it to the larger town of Kharagpur, where she hopes to work as a children’s teacher, but her lack of qualifications make this impossible. A glamorous Anglo-Indian woman, Bonnie, invites her to luxurious Rose Villa, where she is renamed Pamela and inadvertently falls into a