Author(s): Chitra Banerjee DivakaruniDownload
A reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic, the Mahabharat—told from the point of view of an amazing woman.Relevant to today’s war-torn world, The Palace of Illusions takes us back to a time that is half history, half myth, and wholly magical. Narrated by Panchaali, the wife of the legendary Pandavas brothers in the Mahabharat, the novel gives us a new interpretation of this ancient tale. The novel traces the princess Panchaali’s life, beginning with her birth in fire and following her spirited balancing act as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father’s kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at their side through years of exile and a terrible civil war involving all the important kings of India. Meanwhile, we never lose sight of her strategic duels with her mother-in-law, her complicated friendship with the enigmatic Krishna, or her secret attraction to the mysterious man who is her husbands’ most dangerous enemy. Panchaali is a fiery female redefining for us a world of warriors, gods, and the ever-manipulating hands of fate.
Some Reviews: 2741 in Goodreads.com
‘The Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is really a book worth reading! I think its a must read for people who have an interest in the rich literary heritage of India. The author has beautifully summed up longest epic (Mahabharata) in around 360 pages. The story is narrated from the view point of a very important female character in Mahabharata, Panchali. This, I felt, is very unique. This book has added a very interesting touch to the epic.
The book begins with ‘fire’ and ends with ‘fire’. It truly rekindles a ‘fire’ that is, of satisfaction in our hearts after completing this amazing novel.
Besides, the cover of the book is so awesome and attractive.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book.
The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is based on Indian epic the Mahabharata which was written by sage Ved Vyasa. In this book, the story is narrated by Panchali’s point of view. She is the daughter of the king Drupad, also known as Draupadi; wife of five Pandavas, and mistress of the breathtaking and stupendous palace.
Panchali was headstrong, but an egoistic and restless woman. Her harsh words lead to the end of an era, but it was entirely not her fault. She was just a pawn or instrument in God’s play. The women were considered their husband’s property. They have to do whatever they told to, which leads Panchali to a lifelong shame when her husband Yudhisthir lost their kingdom, his younger brothers Bheem, Arjun, Nakul, and Sahdev in a gamble to his cousin brother, Duryodhana in Hastinapur. That unfortunate day, Yudhisthir crossed all the limits and played gamble on Panchali and lost her too. Duryodhana and his brother Dussasan humiliate her in front of everyone. No one comes to her rescue, except Krishna. All of her husbands stay still and watch the disgraceful act, including the great warriors like Karna, Drona, Bhishma. The age-old rivalry between Pandavas and Kauravas played out in the ground of Kurukshetra, which is considered the end of Dvapar Yug.
A fantastic read. Except for that twist in Draupadi’s love life it would have been perfect. The stories of Mahabharatha were a part of my growing up. But i had never paused to think about what the people involved really felt and thought. So it was a surprise to read about Draupadi’s feelings in her own words. What did a woman who was born from fire think about herself. ? What did she feel when she knew that she would have to marry five men ? Thete were times when I found my heart racing like when I read the famous Vastrakshepam scene. All the characters have been shown in shades of grey true to the original Mahabharatha. My favourites were not the Pandus but Krishna and Bheeshma. Loved the narration. Will be sure to read more of Devakaruni.
I am so so happy that I could read this book. I enjoyed every page of it. This is the story of Mahabharatha – not the full one, but a few incidents as seen through the eyes of Draupadi – the Pandava wife. This book will be best appreciated only by those who have a knowledge of the Mahabharatha – the vast Indian epic full of intrigue, mysteries, magic, politics, family obligations and the strife for attaining the Kuru throne by two set of cousins – the good Pandavas (5 brothers with one common wife – Draupadi and hoardes of seperate other wives) as opposed to hundred brothers and one sister (the cruel and immoral Kauravas, though the sister is innocent of any crime or intrigue). Lord Krishna too plays a big part in Mahabharatha being the close friend and cousin of the Pandavas. I really loved the story of Mahabharatha via Draupadi (or Panchali) as the medium. I had never liked Draupadi, but this book makes me see her as a flesh and bone woman. I had never given a second thought to Drishtadhyumna, her brother ( both results of a great yaga). I felt great pity for him on hearing his story via Panchali. One intersting thing is in this book Draupadi and Karna (the noble, but mislead illegitimate son of Kunti, the Pandava mother who always considered the Pandavas as his rivals) appear as star crossed lovers. I wonder what would have happened if Draupadi wed Karna instead of Arjuna. Krtishna too is portrayed here as down-to-earth. If I start I will go on and on about this book. So stopping here. Folks who know the rudiments of Mahabharatha story, please do read this book, though this book may offend pious people as it is a bit unconventional, I did immensely enjoy it and am planning to reread it sometime in future – a bit slowly than my first time, giving time to ruminate on sentences.
We are complex, so are our lives. How can it be, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie rightly pointed out, that our stories are not a compilation of heterogeneous narratives? Our narratives are lessons for us to surmise on the basic effervescence of our lives. Why discard them as illogical and barren in modern times? The Palace of Illusions paints the other side of a story. Contrary to the prevailed portraiture of Panchaali as a victimized women, this saga establishes her as a fierce and rebellious person, who, in lieu to the prophecies of her birth, seeks to prepare herself for the greater task.
The aura of the book is that of mystery and foreboding. Throughout my reading, I had to jot down the page numbers so that I can come back to it later and see if what had been squeezed in so mysteriously, holds a meaning. The narrative also glimpses in the patronizing men’s world and their code of conduct. It, however, doesn’t illustrate womenkind without its follies, “In any case, you’re wrong in thinking of woman as an innocent species.”
For me, this book stands out solely for the reason of painting a vivid picture of the goings-on.
The Google Drive link after 2 shortened URL. Please support our site, We depend on ad revenue to keep maintaining this site for you to enjoy for free.