Now, before you go ahead with this review, let me warn you this is the first time I am putting up a book review and had it not been for the Write Tribe’s prompt, I would mostly not have attempted reviewing a book in near future.
But now that we are here, let’s begin. The book I am reviewing today is ‘The Palace of Illusions’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Let me tell you that I am not at all a mythology person. In fact, mythology to me is literally kaala akshar bhains barabar :P And hence this is the first book that I read on mythology after some serious recommendation by a friend. I was pretty sure that I would give up after reading first few pages. But this book kept me hooked. And hooked like anything.
The Palace of Illusions is the epic tale of The Mahabharat narrated from Panchaali’s eyes. The book is written in first person and throughout the book, Panchaali narrates incidence after incidence beginning right from her abnormal birth, her lonely childhood, her mysterious friendship and relationship with Krishna, her feminist thoughts, her married life with Five Pandavas, relationship with her mother-in-law Kunti, her distinct role in keeping Pandavas together, her insecurities as a woman, her secret and strange attraction to Karna, motherhood and her journey all through the while fulfilling every word of the phrase of ‘the woman who shall change the course of history’ spoken at the time of her birth.
Some amazing lines and their significance in today’s times:
There are so many instances and beautifully woven lines that you would find relevant even today. Putting together just a few of them here.
Relationship with her Mother-in-law:
“I wasn’t going to give my mother-in-law the satisfaction of thinking that she’d reduced me to tears, though in fact I was on the verge of weeping with frustration."
"Had we remained in Hastinapur, in her husband’s palace, I am sure she would have fought me fiercely for control. But the Palace of Illusions was my domain, and she accepted this, spending her days in the cool, fragrant garden listening to the bulbuls sing. Or was she a better actress than I gave her credit for, bidding her time, waiting for the mistakes she knew I’d make?”
Now, who says the ‘coveted’ saas-bahu fights were made famous by Ekta Kapoor. Reading the above lines made me grin thinking that this bitter-sweet relationship existed from the days of the yore.
Her Feminist Ideas:
“Nor was I particularly delighted with the virginity boon, which seemed designed more for my husbands’ benefit than mine. That seemed to be the nature of boon given to women – they were handed to us like presents we hadn’t quite wanted.
If the sage had cared to inquire, I’d have requested the gift of forgetting, so that when I went to each brother I’d be free of the memory of the previous one.”
These and many such lines bring out her frustration of being born into a man’s world. This yet again proves that we, women have been fighting this battle of feminism since ages. Sigh !!
The Practical and Sharp Women in Her:
The photograph on the right speaks volumes about the way Panchaali thought about herself and her importance in the life of Pandavas. Ofcourse, she was a woman and just like today’s women she took the fact about her husbands’ marrying other women with a pinch of salt, however, at the same time knowing her true value in their lives.
Now, who hasn’t heard about Mahabharata? We all have. But unfolding incident after incident from Panchaali’s point of view was such a refresher. So many small incidents woven together in bringing this epic tale alive seen from Panchaali’s eyes. The Palace of Illusions depicts Panchaali as a powerful, courageous and a practical woman who knew her way in the world of men. The book is written in impeccable English with carefully chosen words.
Summing up, I enjoyed reading this book thoroughly for its fast paced narrative, amazing writing style and beautiful words. This one has actually inspired me to dive more into mythological books.
I don't know if the above can be called a proper review or not. But I hope I have done enough justice while putting up the above. And as I said, this review is a first timer. Suggestions are welcome. Ciao J
This post is written for the Write Tribe Festival of Words – Day 4 where we had to put up a Book Review.