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The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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“Because ultimately only the witness — and not the actors — knows the truth (Vyasa to Draupadi)”

What would the Mahabharata be like if told through a woman’s voice? How did Draupadi cope with being married off to five husbands? Who did she love the most? And which of her five husbands loved her the most?

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is half history, half myth and wholly magical. From the very beginning, Panchaali, the princess born from fire  refused to be intimidated by men. Due to a twist of fate she finds herself married to the five Pandavas. While her friendship with Krishna remains constant, Panchali’s other relationships test her throughout. In the midst of manipulations and strategic duels, the essence of Draupadi/Panchaali and her needs get sidelined. “Love comes like lightning, and disappears the same way. If you are lucky, it strikes you right. If not, you’ll spend your life yearning for a man you can’t have.”

The Palace of Illusion is a deeply human novel about a woman born into a man’s world — a world of warriors, gods and the ever manipulating hands of fate. A must read for all who have always wondered why epics such as the Mahabharata never focused on inner most thoughts of the woman who was held responsible for the epic battle between the good and bad.

Almost nobody ever names their daughter Draupadi – unless it is a trick to ward off the  hostile fates by pre-empting their ordained malice with such an ‘unlucky’ name for the child. Draupadi is synonymous with bringing back luck to the men of her clan. After you read this book you will never think the same way about Draupadi again!

Rating 4/5

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This entry was posted on October 8, 2014 by in Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fiction and tagged , .
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