The following book encapsulates the perspective of panchala princess DRAUPADI on the life of a woman during the period of DWAPAR YUGA when the epic battle of MAHABHARTA took place and covers incidents such as her birth from the fire,marriage,life in the wasteland and the harassment during the dice game.
Name of the book: The Palace of Illusions
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
No of pages: 360
Mahabharata is an epic that is beyond a single theme.It is a book that is open to discussions and numerous opinions. In the book Palace of Illusions the author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni tells this age old Indian golden epic from the perspective of Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandavas who is prophesied at her birth to be the person who will change the course of history of entire Bharata (India).
This book traces the journey of Draupadi’s life from being a rebellious girl questioning customs and rituals of an essentially patriarchal society, her relationship with her twin brother Dhrishtadyumna (whom she affectionately called Dhri) who is also her only real friend in her father’s court.
She also raises her voice against the injustice and differences between men and women and the internal differences between wives of the king, to being the faithful and loyal wife of the Pandava brothers being equally supportive in their tough times and their struggle for getting what is justly theirs.
The book also portrays her relationship with her mother in law Kunti ( a specific incident in the book where Kunti tests her culinary skills by giving her a brinjal to prepare with only cumin and a little salt).
The most interesting of all is her secret admiration for Karna, a great warrior who is often denied the respect he deserves just because of his Varna and parental lineage, and he is the unsung hero of the war and also the book gives an insight as to what were the circumstances that led to the Great War from a woman’s viewpoint, highlighting the fact that there is an even greater force that exists than just brute physical prowess and that is – women’s power of persuasion.
WHAT WE LIKED IN THE BOOK
1) I really liked the author’s initiative to narrate the story from Draupadi’s perspective, who as of yet was only considered as woman who bought death and destruction to the nation and left countless women widows.
2) The novel is very descriptive, so the readers who are reading Mahabharata for the first time or do not know about any of its characters, will get a fair idea of what the epic signifies and the role of every single character in the war and also beyond that.
WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE IN THE BOOK
Well, as We have mentioned earlier Mahabharata is a book that is subjective to numerous opinions. Our version of its understanding may completely differ from other readers.
Yudhishtra, the eldest brother of the Pandavas is most of the times ridiculed for causing most of the troubles, especially him losing everything in a dice game to Duryodhana, including his wife.
Though his criticism is valid, there were many instances when Yudhishtra saved his brothers too, for example in the Vana Prava riddle contest.
A good book if you are really interested in historical fiction, Mahabharata is one of the few books that never disappoints anyone and covers every single theme-love, insult and revenge, social evils, politics and many more.
Overall a good read, I recommend everyone to do read Mahabharata if you have not, and it will be great if you start with this one.
OUR RATINGS – 4/5