Here we are, back with another book review. This time we will share our views on The Palace of Illusions, historical fiction by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Let’s read Mahabharat from Panchali’s/ Draupadi’s perspective.
The Palace of Illusions:
Genre: Historical Fiction
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Published in: 2008
About the author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an Indian-American poet and author. She wrote award-winning novels and a few of her novels are adapted into films with many others in the line. The amazing lady author has published novels in multiple genres, including realistic fiction, magical realism, historical fiction, fantasy, and myth.
About the book: The palace of illusions is historical fiction and is an interpretation of the Hindu epic, Mahabharata from Draupadi’s(Panchali’s) perspective. The book speaks from the woman’s perspective, living in a patriarchal world.
Most of us have read Mahabharata, but the palace of illusion is narrated by Panchali, the wife of the legendary Pandavas brothers.
Book Review: The palace of illusions-
The novel starts from her birth and talks about her friendship with lord Krishna, aspirations about her marriage, swayamwar, relationship with her mother-in-law, and much more.
- Early stages: The novel starts with her childhood days, and the first chapter of the book, named, fire talks about her birth. The initial part talks about her bonding with the twin brother, father, dhai-ma, and her friend, Krishna.
She has always been a curious kid, though her curiosity was often not appreciated. Draupadi was born after her brother, Dhrishtadyumna, and would be responsible for changing the course of history. Her bond with Krishna is special. The book talks about her insecurity about being a dark-skinned princess. At the age of 14, she asked Krishna if a dark-skinned princess is capable of changing history. To which Krishna replied-
A problem becomes a problem only if you believe it to be so. And often others see you as you see yourself.
The novel mentions how she dealt with her insecurities and became confident. She was discouraged from attending Dhri’s (her brother’s) lessons. However, Lord Krishna insisted that prophecy at her birth requires such education for her. Many complained about her for being argumentative and having manlike speech. She met sage Vyasa and he shared a few pieces about her marriage and future.
2. Marriage: Son of Indra, Arjun won Draupadi in her swyamwar. Karna tried participating and the novel also talks about Draupadi’s and Karna’s encounters. She started her married life with Arjun, but soon after the marriage, because of her mother-in-law, she became a wife to all five Pandavas. Story shares about her longing for love and how Pandavas had a second marriage. However, their wives were not allowed in the palace but Arjun’s wife Subhadra became her favorite and came to the palace.
So, the novel also discusses her marriage and love life. The book talks about the challenges she faced after being a common wife to all Pandavas and her relationship with their other wives and children. However, the author shares Draupadi’s attraction to Karna and how she came to know everything about him in the end.
3. Kauravas, Draupadi’s Cheerharan and the great war- Mahabharat:
The historical-fiction talks about the Kauravas and their visit to the palace of illusions. Later, the novel talks about Pandavas visit to their palace where Yudhishtir lost the game and how that led to the Draupadi’s Cheerharan. Draupadi’s disrespect in the court finally gave a call for the great Battle of Kurukshetra- Mahabharat between the Kauravas and the Pandavas.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an amazing author and I loved her writing style. The novel will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride. A Mahabharat from Draupadi’s point of view will tell you about the life of a woman in ancient times.
The first and last chapter of the book shares a similar name- fire, thus connecting the end to the beginning. So, Grab The palace of illusions and enjoy the story of a woman who was born to change history.
We will be back with another book review. Till then enjoy our other book reviews.
Also, suggest your favorite historical fiction or fiction in the comment box below.
Happy reading. 🙂