Twelve women gathered for Book Club at Lynn Leissler’s home on October 11 to discuss The Sleeping Dictionary by Sujata Massey. All agreed they hadn’t learned much in school about the Raj–the Imperial British rule in India. A sleeping dictionary, by the way, refers to British men learning local language via mistresses and prostitutes. Pom, Sarah, Pamela, Kamela – is a peasant girl who reinvents herself several times amidst dire circumstances. In 1930, our heroine, a young child, loses her entire family in a tsunami. She escapes enslavement to become a maidservant in a British boarding school. There she learns the King’s English, but flees after a false accusation. Desperation drags her into the world of prostitution, but again, she escapes and uses her language skills to improve her lot. She claims a higher caste identity than is her right, and eventually works in Calcutta for Simon Lewes, a British Civil Service officer. Though a work of fiction, Massey offers interaction with historical political figures. The story parallels Kamela and India’s wrenching struggle for independence. And of course, there is romance. It’s a book worth the read.