Mel's Reviews > The Palace of Illusions

The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
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's review
Aug 30, 10

bookshelves: contemporary-fiction, folklore-and-mythology, india
Read from August 01, 2009 to August 30, 2010

This is one of my favorite authors, so I was really looking forward to this book. The story is based on the Mahabharata, an Indian epic.

The Mahabharat is a well know Indian epic where the Pandavas brothers and their cousins the Kauravas come into conflict. The Bhagavad Gita is a part of this story as well.

In Divakaruni's version, the story is told from a female perspective. She takes the Princess, Draupadi, and tells the story from her point of view.

At first, I was utterly and completely confused with the characters and the plot. There seemed to be extra characters that I couldn't keep track of (they turned out to be the same people but with more than one name). So, I put the book aside...for a year.

I decided to give it another chance last week. In this second attempt, it suddenly dawned on me that the story follows the Mahabharat and that made the a big difference. I began to put the pieces together and then the book was quite enjoyable.

It was interesting to see things through Draupadi's eyes. Many of the Pandavas virtues came off differently when seen from someone who had to suffer the effects of their actions.

The only thing I didn't really care for was the amount of time spent on Draupadi's romantic feelings towards another character. It seemed to diminish her in some way. I don't recall if that was part of the original tale, but I found it distracting.

Beyond that minor flaw, I thought this was well done. I liked seeing the story told from another character's point of view. Having read the Mahabharat (and seeing one of the movies based on it) helped me with the story. The book may be a little more challenging for someone who is not familiar with the Mahabharat.

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Reading Progress

08/25/2010 page 120
08/26/2010 page 135
40.0% "At first, I found this book a little confusing. But, now I'm really enjoying it. It's the India epic, the Mahabharata, but told from the perspective of one of the female characters."
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