Mahabharata is probably the most complete text in the sense that it contains all possible human emotions. All possible complex situations and dilemmas that human beings face. No matter where you are in life, you can find a parallel in some story somewhere in this epic. This book The Palace of Illusions is also an attempt to re-tell the story from the point of view of one character, Draupadi. Who in my opinion is one of the most interesting characters in the story? Many authors have attempted writing this story from many perspectives. My favorite being ‘Mrityunjaya’ by Shivaji Sawant, which is Mahabharat written from Karan’s eye view. Even Pratibha Rai’s Draupadi was a superb book to read.
Incidentally, I read both the books in Hindi and could relate to the characters with a lot of depth. Compared to these two books, Chitra’s book is not so great. Depth is missing and there seems to be a bias that she carries against Draupadi, painting her too strong even in her week moments. Though reading this book did make me think and reflect on the character of Draupadi.
Draupadi is someone divine by birth, born unwanted and yet had an objective, kept yearning for the parental love, being controlled by Krishna throughout her life. Loved Karna but married his five brothers. Torn apart between her husbands and others who wanted her. Lived the best and worst of lives possible in a single life. And that too many times over. Got humiliated like no queen could imagine, ruled a palace no other could own. Had sons she could never mother. Had husbands who she could never depend on and who were bound more to their duties and their goals. Worked on getting what she wanted whether it was wealth or revenge. A twist, a turn, and a story were waiting for her at every step in life.
Read this book The Palace of Illusions if you like the story of Mahabharata, I can read that story any no of times and every time get some insights into life. There is nothing new that you would get out of it, though it has been written in the first person as if narrated by Draupadi. The author could have gone into more depth of character and her relationships with other key characters, she focused more on the sequence of events than the emotions of it.
Buy this book – The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni at Amazon India.
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