Genre: Literary, Indian Mythology, Drama
Price: Rs 699 for paperback on amazon India and Rs 129 for Kindle edition
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The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is a lucid and skillful retelling of all the major events in The Mahabharat from Draupadi’s perspective.
The book explores various forms of love through Draupadi’s many relationships. Her fierce sisterly love for her brother, her playful and soothing love for Krishna, her admiration for the virtues of each of her husbands, and most of all, her intense, yet unfulfilled love for Karna.
The book also examines her emotional growth and development from childhood to death with each momentous event transforming her personality in stages, as she makes the journey from naivety, through confidence to wisdom.
What I Liked
The book is written in simple contemporary language and style making Draupadi not some distant mythical entity, but someone today’s women can identify with. And guess what? It works. The circumstances, beliefs, principles and social norms may be changed beyond recognition since the time of the Mahabharat, but not the heart and mind of a woman. We still feel the same emotions, suffer the same insecurities and have similar yearnings. The book is an engrossing and breezy read, in spite of the story being well known.
The book glorifies no one, but invites the reader to empathize with the ethical struggles of every major character, as they flail against their own weaknesses.
The author does a good job of depicting Draupadi’s struggle with Kunti, her mother-in-law she both dislikes and respects.
Draupadi’s relationship with Krishna is an oasis in her otherwise tumultuous life.
The author studies the obsessions of various characters and shows how these obsessions are a source of strength for they allow single minded pursuit of an objective, but they exact a very heavy price. A lot is lost or ignored, paving the way for regrets. Some obsessions are all consuming causing loss of all perspective, leading to devastating impulsive decisions.
The girl and the woman behind the illusion of the queen.
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