The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

‘The palace of Illusions’ is a retelling of Epic Mahabharata from Draupadi’s point of view. She is the protagonist of the story and is re-imagined as a modern feminist. She questions all the gender norms and has a constructive argument to counter those norms.

I read this book a few weeks ago, and in terms of the reading experience, it was a great pick. You side by Draupadi’s character quite a lot and, it resonates with your subconscious. The character development of other characters is quite well. The author chose to stick with the original story line. Hence, it quite easy to follow and her writing style was very engaging as well, making it a subversive experience for the reader.

I like the story and storytelling, there were a few cringe moments tough that I encountered while reading. I felt the author went a little too far with the illicit fancies of Draupadi for Karna. It felt relevant during the swayamvar plot, but post that it just put me off all the time. It was not fun reading a feminist retelling of Draupadi with her blushing at the thought of Karna every now and then.

I do like the way the author described Draupdi’s relationship with other women in her life. It was quite refreshing to see how the Dai ma and even Kunti’s character had an interesting dynamics with Draupadi. Overall, it was an engaging read. It was a great attempt at recreating the epic storyline with a great plot and well developed characters.

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