Book Reviews

Palace Of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni – Book Review

Mythological stories have intrigued me ever since I remember listening to them from my nani. And each time a story was told numerous questions erupted in my mind. Some found satisfactory answers while some just stood hanging on the curiosity wire in my mind. I remember watching the Mahabharata and the Ramayana every Sunday on DD National. I never really understood or related to the sufferings of Sita or Draupadi until only a few years back. So, when I came across Palace of Illusions by Chitra Divakaruni I wanted to know the other side of the story.

The side of a woman, the story from a woman’s point of view, which is evident neither in Ramayana nor Mahabharat. Our ancient epics have always glorified men while women played side characters, needed to weave the story. 

I was looking forward to understanding this huge epic from a woman’s eyes. It took me a while to finish this book, and once I did, I was perplexed, filled with umpteen numbers of questions, overflowing thoughts, heavy emotions. I was left with a void I couldn’t exactly comprehend. At times, I couldn’t understand the character of Draupadi. At times I felt she was me or perhaps many women today. 

When even today, 1000s of years later a woman cannot have more than one husband, with 5 husbands I can’t even fathom what/how Draupadi felt at the announcement. Why did she agree to marry four more men? Draupadi has portrayed by the author has written in Palace of Illusions was a headstrong woman who questioned the set patterns, wanted to turn the tide, believed in making a mark in history (which she did undoubtedly.) 

There are many incidents in the book which made me stop and think. Especially, the chirharan incident. If women were easily, with no shame in the eyes, without a second thought on the actions, treated as objects of pleasure by men in those days, then how different are men today? When men had the audacity to order to undress a woman in a court filled with 100s of men, then how different is the plight of women today? 

This is my first book by Chitra Divakaruni and though I had a little difficulty in following her writing style, I quite liked it. Her writing style is pretty different from what I have read so far. It has complexity yet the words are woven so beautifully that you do not feel lost or baffled. 

Why should you read Palace Of Illusions

. To understand and visualize a great epic from a woman’s eyes

. To understand the character of Draupadi, the woman she was in times when a girl child wasn’t wanted

. To understand the plight of Draupadi (certain incidents relevant even today) and how she handles and lives through each

. To know what happened after the great war of Kurukshetra

. If you want to, once more, get engrossed in mythological tales 

Rating: 4 stars

You can buy the book here.

Author: rashi mital

A mother and a travel enthusiast, I love speed and am proud of my driving skills. In my free time I love reading, writing, and sometimes doing nothing. I try to live every moment and believe in living young despite the age.

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