This review has been revised and can now be found at A Reimagining Of The World Famous Indian Epic, The Mahabharat Told From The Point Of View Of An Amazing WomanRelevant 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 A woman is not a touch but a response to itPratibha RayChitra Banerjee Divakaruni, an Indian best selling novelist, has penned an extremely emotional and gripping mythological cum historical fiction novel, The Palace of Illusions that narrates the great epic Indian mythological tale, Mahabharata from the point of view of the most brilliant and fearless female character, Draupadi, who weaves her thoroughly soul touching yet enduring life story starting from the day she was born to the day she left her palace and kingdom to follow behind the footsteps of her husbands to heaven Yes, in modern terms, you call it a fan fiction of Mahabharata.Synopsis 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 Panchaali, daughter of king Draupad, was born out of fire, when her father prayed and fasted for a son who will take vengeance on his enemies So apart from Panchaali, a dark beauty and highly intelligent and smart young girl, Dhrishtadyumna, a fierce young boy was also born out of the very same fire While growing up, Draupadi confided in only three people who were closest to her heart, her caretaker, Dhai Ma, her brother, Dhri, and her only friend, Krishna, who guided her through all her troubles with his wise and thoughtful advice But when the time arrived for Swayamvar, Draupadi s heart has already found the man of her life, but due to her father and Krishna s strategy and scheme to protect the king and the kingdom from his enemies, thereby yet once again Draupadi followed what others wanted her to follow before her heart s desire Once landing into the palace of her husband, Arjun, Draupadi, once again, had to fight for and obey the rules and the opinions of her mother in law, Kunti, who asked her to marry off five of her sons, instead of only one From then on, Draupadi had to lead a sad and enduring life filled with only grief, pain and loss and embarrassment But not for once Draupadi spoke out aloud of her grief either to her husbands or to her own family, instead she quietly obeyed and payed heavily for everything that her husbands did This is one of the most enthralling and magical re telling of the epic mythological tale that changed the history, spiritualism, thoughts and beliefs of Indian society The whole tale felt like an astounding, mystical and breath taking read that blew my mind with the intensity of Draupadi s heart breaking life story as well as with the opportunity to lose myself in the thrill of the greatest mythology, Mahabharata told from the perspective of a brave woman The author has not only imagined and projected her version of this epic tale, but has also included the wise words of Vyasa, the original author of Mahabharata.The author s writing style is exquisite and eloquent and has laced the story line with so many deep, heart felt emotions that will move the readers for the characters plight The narrative is somewhat intellectual, thoughtful and truly authentic and it is told from the first person point of view of Draupadi, so that will let the readers contemplate with her honest voice The pacing of the book is very slow and while reading, the readers might feel a bit lethargic due to the usage of heavy words and too many philosophical adverbs by the author The characterization of the protagonist, Draupadi, is really well carved out with all her flaws and her stronger aspects, with her desires and her hatred and with her positive and negative thoughts, thereby letting the readers experience and get to know Draupadi in her raw form Draupadi has been brilliantly portrayed into the story and has been brought alive with so much vigor by the author The readers will be shocked to go through the intense pain of Draupadi s struggle with her childhood days, her marital life, her role as a pawn in the game of the greatest war in the history of our country, her emotions towards how the brothers fought against his own blood just for the price of kingdom In short, the rest of the supporting characters, do not much role or depth in them, either way, from Draupadi s minds the readers can chalk out a brief sketch of those characters.In a nutshell, this is an excellently well written fan fiction based on Hindu mythology that will enlighten the readers minds and souls as well as keep them entertained all through out the book.Verdict A must read for historical fiction readers Just a petty complaint I m in the middle of this book and have a strong enough sense of the story to be able to make a heart felt plea enough of the blatant foreshadowing It s as if the author has no other creative or subtle use of language to hint at things to come It always involves the last sentence of the chapter, starting with the end of Chapter 1, I didn t know then how sorely that love would be tested, or how much it would cost both of us , I didn t know that I d never see this fragrant flower laden road or the palace I so loved again , The current of destiny seemed to have flung us ashore and receded Not knowing that it was gathering in a tidal wave, we chafed in our calmness and so it goes over and over again I know it s a petty complaint for a story that is so grand and epic as a retelling of the Mahabharat It seems of a reflection of how the author views her own writing abilities as if she does not trust her skill at being able to work the story delicately, subtlely, and weave it carefully so there need not be so graphic statements that constantly thread an ominous and foreboding feeling throughout the whole book It does not allow the reader to let down their guard to get lost in the story, as they are always waiting for the other proverbial shoe to fall Other than this issue, I admire the author s ambitions and think she deserves recognition for what she does accomplish with the story Though her writing and story telling are not as sophisticated as Ki Longfellow or Anita Diamont, she has real potential and I look forward to watching her develop her talent. I don t know why I do this to myself Why I bother with this author when book after book has been nothing but Wanting, for lack of a better word The Mahabharata is my favorite story of all time It is every book in one book and to take on the task of retelling the story from the perspective of Draupadi is the literary equivalent of hitting a jackpot of an idea But Here comes Ms Bannerjee Divakaruni to ruin that wholly awesome party This book is shallow, trite and vapid The protagonist, otherwise known to be a woman of unequalled passions, valor, and beauty doesn t seem to emotionally age beyond her twenties.But all these are still subjective plaints My big bone to pick is the appalling use of language The author doesn t lack an impressive vocabulary or expression, and so I struggle to understand why this book reads like a drugstore paperback and less like a retelling of classic literature Phraseology is adolescent, and language is simplified to the point where one needs to remind oneself constantly that we are in ancient India No grandeur No grand intonations No class And no real wit Even Draupadi s quasi flirtations with Krishna sound like they ve been lifted from 90s high school sitcoms The attempts at humor are putrid and labored The star crossed love affair with Karna is frustratingly drawn out with no just cause Why bother with the angle It achieves nothing other than a 200 page lament and a rather pathetically orated outburst towards the penultimate chapters I could go on for a while but it s really venting spleen In a nutshell, read it if, like me, you are a real Mahabharata phile but not really otherwise It s an easy read not because it flows effortlessly but because it s somewhat idiotically written and poses no real challenge to the mind I ve given it a two One for effort and one for actually being enough of a story for one to complete it Though that is hardly the author s medal. Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni had been on my TBR list for years, but honestly, I wasn t sure it was for me As I review it today, I have only myself to blame I was totally swept over by Chitra s prose, mesmerized by the conviction with which she writes the story of one of the most complex characters of Mahabharata, that too, in first person Kudos to the author for successfully presenting a fast paced compendium of this epic Indian text, which as it happens, is also one of the longest poems ever written it is roughly ten times the length of the Iliad and the Odyssey combined, as per Wikipedia The narrative is telling of the life and travails of Draupadi, the woman who was born out of fire, married to five of the fiercest warriors of her time the Pandavas , the queen who ruled one of the most magical of palaces, one who refused to learn the lessons her friend, Krishna, a God incarnate, taught her, a woman who was obsessed with vengeance, and spurned by the world for having been the cause of the great battle of Mahabharta, the battle that saw clans obliterated, and millions dead.Through smart dialogue, the author cleverly etches out the character of Draupadi, careening a bit as she does this, from how this character has been portrayed in other versions of this epic tale, giving her faults and imperfections, likes and dislikes, loves and hates just as us humans thus delineating her from the conditions surrounding her unnatural birth The novel delves into the secrets of her life, the man she loved above her five husbands, her feelings as she witnessed acts of perfidy by people she considered her own, the ignominy of insults heaped on her by the world In the end, the reader has become so much a part of this central character that just like her, he she is craving for something to redeem her And redemption happens, yes it does I have yet to read a novel that d a satisfying ending as this Definitely something for me to learn there Aku selalu suka sama kisah yang mengangkat sudut pandang berbeda dari seorang perempuan Dan Drupadi ini dengan sukses telah menghipnotisku dengan kehidupannya yang penuh liku likuDrupadi adalah titisan Dewi Agni, yang diramalkan akan mengubah sejarahPada bab bab awal Putri drupadi diramalkan bahwa dia akan menikah dengan lima pahlawan besar pada zamannya, akan menjadi ratu dari segala ratu, dicemburui para dewi Akan menyebabkan perang terbesar, kematian kakak dan anak anaknya, akan menyebabkan sejuta perempuan menjanda Dan ramalan tersebut menjadi kenyataan.Dia dilahirkan dari api bersama kembarannya Drestadumnya, demi membalaskan dendam sang Ayah yang bersitegang dengan sahabat lamanya Drona Pembalasan dendam inilah yang menjadi akar bagaimana kesengsaraan dimulai.Atas nama kehormatan, para pria tak bisa mundur dari sumpah yang telah diucapkan mereka Atas nama kehormatan, para pria lebih rela bertarung habis habisan dan merenggut nyawa yang pernah mereka kasihi.Atas nama kehormatan seorang ibu membuang bayi pertamanya ke sungai Gangga.Atas nama kehormatan Amba kembali pada Bisma, dan mengucap sumpah dendam.Atas nama kehormatan pula Drupadi terikat sumpah yang akan membawanya pada sebuah perang besar.Kenapa aku suka sama buku Palace of Illusions ini DKarena pengarangnya tidak memihak pada satu tokoh pun Bahkan tidak pada Drupadi sendiri.Tidak ada yang patut disalahkan dalam perang tersebut Tidak drupadi, tidak drona, tidak duryodana, tidak yudisthiraKarena itu sudah menjadi suratan takdir manusia hanyalah bidak waktu bidak yang mempunyai peran penting saat waktu terus bergulirseperti yang dituliskan pada halaman 68 Takdir itu kuat dan cepat Kau tidak bisa memperdayanya dengan mudah Meskipun kau tidak mencarinya hari ini, pada waktunya takdir yang akan menemukanmu.Favoritku tetap Bima DGak peduli badannya keker kek, serem kek, pokoknya sukaCintanya ke drupadi tuh bikin klepek klepekSudaaah gak bisa berkata katahanya satu yang kupelajariDalam perang yang dibutuhkan sebagai senjata pamungkasnya adalah kebencian bukan kasih sayang A retelling of the Mahabharata from Draupadi s point of view sounds like it has much potential but this attempt is let down by trying to encompass all of the epic, and bringing in the stories of almost all the characters, instead of staying faithful to Draupadi s feminist viewpoint Making it a half baked encapsulation, instead of a re interpretation. 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. I am really happy I picked up this book.I was truly bored of Mahabharata retellings and I never intended to read of those.I am glad I do for this book is a MUST READ.Written from Draupadi s perspective, the book is just too good Written beautifully with praiseworthy story telling, this book wouldn t disappoint you.
Her newest novel is Before We Visit the Goddess about 3 generations of women grandmother, mother and daughter who each examine the question what does it mean to be a successful woman Simon Schuster.She was born in India and lived there until 1976, at which point she left Calcutta and came to the United States She continued her education in the field of English by receiving a Master s degree from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley.To earn money for her education, she held many odd jobs, including babysitting, selling merchandise in an Indian boutique, slicing bread in a bakery, and washing instruments in a science lab At Berkeley, she lived in the International House and worked in the dining hall She briefly lived in Illinois and Ohio, but has spent much of her life in Northern California, which she often writes about She now lives in Texas, which has found its way into her upcoming book, Before We Visit the Goddess.Chitra currently teaches in the nationally ranked Creative Writing program at the Univ of Houston She serves on the Advisory board of Maitri in the San Francisco Bay Area and Daya in Houston Both these are organizations that help South Asian or South Asian American women who find themselves in abusive or domestic violence situations She is also closely involved with Pratham, an organization that helps educate children especially those living in urban slums in India.She has judged several prestigious awards, such as the National Book Award and the PEN Faulkner Award.Two of her books, The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart, have been made into movies by filmmakers Gurinder Chadha and Paul Berges an English film and Suhasini Mani Ratnam a Tamil TV serial respectively Her novels One Amazing Thing and Palace of Illusions have currently been optioned for movies Her book Arranged Marriage has been made into a play and performed in the U.S and upcoming, May in Canada River of Light, an opera about an Indian woman in a bi cultural marriage, for which she wrote the libretto, has been performed in Texas and California She lives in Houston with her husband Murthy She has two sons, Anand and Abhay whose names she has used in her children s novels.Chitra loves to connect with readers on her Facebook author page,
- 360 pages
- The Palace of Illusions
- Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
- 04 November 2017 Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni