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The Forest of Enchantments

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  5,793 ratings  ·  826 reviews
The Ramayana, one of the world’s greatest epics, is also a tragic love story. In this brilliant retelling, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni places Sita at the centre of the novel: this is Sita’s version.

The Forest of Enchantments is also a very human story of some of the other women in the epic, often misunderstood and relegated to the margins: Kaikeyi, Surpanakha, Mandodari. A
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published January 25th 2019 by HarperCollins India
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Mridula Gupta
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I have been hiding behind other books because this book has such rave and glorious reviews, but it failed to impress me. For a person, who is a huge fan of Mythology, and has read about 4 retelling of ‘The Ramayana’, this book felt fairly mediocre,

As I highlighted on my Instagram post, I had a few issues with this book. The first was Sita’s relationship with the other characters. This aspect which would have helped us build a better version of Sita in our minds was missing throughout the book. L
Richa Bhattarai
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
It is a story as old as the hills and as new as a fresh dewdrop clinging to a tender shoot growing on those very hills. A story we know by heart. Our heroine, Sita, is wedded to the conscientious, justice-loving, ‘perfect man’, Ram. She is abducted by Ravan, rescued by Ram and then promptly abandoned. She proves her innocence, becomes the queen of Ayodhya and prepares to welcome her children when she is exiled from the kingdom. She gets depressed, but recovers enough to raise her twins as worthy ...more
"I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves."

----Mary Shelley

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, an Indian best selling novelist, has penned an evocative and timeless tale of one of the greatest love story that our Indian mythology has ever given to us in the form of Ramayana in her new book, The Forest of Enchantments. But its not a retelling of our favorite mythology on Lord Ram, rather its told and primarily focuses on the life and time of Lord Ram's wife, Sita who is not just
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
The story of Ramayana, its wonders and lessons are ingrained in our lives as Indians. It is a remarkable piece of literature, rightly an epic, a timeless legend. But as is the case with most ancient texts it is steeped in patriarchy and a sense of injustice and unfairness forver stains its otherwise holy pages.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni promises to undo the injustice, promises to give voice to the voiceless and neglected females of the legend.
"Write our story, too,” Sita hears the voices of th
I have waited too too long to read this book. When the release date was first announced, I was full of joy only to realize it wasn’t coming yet in the US. I waited almost 6 months for the ebook to get to my kindle and I’m even more glad that I got to read this during our independence week.

The Palace of Illusions is one of my all time favorites and it was such a joy to read the amazing Mahabharata through Draupadi’s eyes. So, I was quite excited to see what the author would do with Sita’s story.
Asha Seth
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is seldom I rate a book 5 stars. But when I do, I ensure it is absolutely deserving of it.
The FoE is the tragic story of one of the most revered women of Indian mythologies - Sita. The queen who was tried despite her unwavering love and loyalty. The daughter who was abandoned by parents, and much cruelly, by the husband.
It's been a while I have read anything so absorbing. It is not just the epic saga that is overwhelmingly engaging, but equally beautiful is the writing. It is as though,
Tanaya Deshmukh
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think most of us must have seen the animated Ramayan movie that used to come on cartoon network (I think) and gotten mesmerised by the wonderful story-telling power of its directors. I love Indian epics and their re-tellings but I have always read/watched the Ramayan from a single perspective, how Ram saved Sita from the clutches of Ravan, the demon king.
This story was such a refreshing take not called as Ramayan but Sitayan and indeed it should be called so as it tells the story of the epic f
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
'I forgave you a long time ago,' I say to Ram. 'Though I didn't know it until now. Because this is the most important aspect of love, whose other face is compassion: It isn't doled out, drop by drop. It doesn't measure who is worthy and who isn't. It is like the ocean. Unfathomable. Astonishing. Measureless.'

The Forest of Enchantments, I feel, has one of the most iconic closing lines ever. The book started with a slow and dull pace - full of an unfulfilled capability of being as iconic as it
Aritri Chatterjee
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I became a huge fan of the author when she wrote A Palace of Illusions and have been crushing over that piece and how real the mythological characters felt in her retelling. And The Forest of Enchantments is no exception. A modern day Sitayan, the epic told from Sita’s point of view, I fell in love with the story yet again and for quite different reasons this time.

The narrative takes us from the swayamvar of Sita where she finally meets Ram to the abduction by Ravana, and then to the part where
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is what Kaikeyi failed to see: it's not enough to merely love someone. Even if we love them with our entire being, even if we're willing to commit the most heinous sin for their well-being. We must understand and respect the values that drive them. We must want what they want, not what we want for them.

Ramayan is not only a mythological story, it is a major pillar of Hinduism. In today's India, where Ram Raajya is considered to be the ideal country, are we steering in the wrong direction?
Mansi Mudgal
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I read Palace of Illusions years ago and was blown away by the beautiful writing, Panchali and pretty much everything that book was about, so, when I came to know that the author was coming up with The Forests of Enchantments which essentially is Sita’s story( Sitayan), I had great things in minds!
This book, is said to be about Sita, her hopes and dreams..... while we all know what happens in Ramayana what The story promises us is a side which is as important as that of The Male; this book tho
Jan 23, 2019 marked it as to-read
HOW DID I NOT HEAR OF THIS SOONER. I actually saw this cover on the story of Mira Rajput Kapoor and for some reason, I saw the words 'The Palace of Illusions'. GOD, THIS SOUNDS AMAZING AND THIS COVER. 😍 ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this fresh off of finishing Palace of Illusions, which I absolutely loved because of how honest and full of rage it was. This one, not so much. I still enjoyed it because I like the author's voice, but felt that while Palace of Illusions took risks and explored more with reference to interpretations, this was rather cliched. I mean, there's so many amazing reinterpretations of Ramayan now, with the whole asura-sura dichotomy being a reflection of the colorism and class debates, and there ...more
Shatarupa  Dhar
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: country-india
Delhi Book Launch of The Forest of Enchantments
(Review to come later)
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read this review on:

How can a book leave you feeling lost. Is it that desire to read more of the same story because it was just that amazing or dissatisfaction because the book didn't take the course you wanted it to? Or perhaps it's a mixture of both. But then again, perhaps as a woman - the Ramayan always left me with that feeling of dissatisfaction for I had wanted the estranged lovers to be reunited, where Ram begged his wife's forgiveness. 

I waited 7 years for
Uttara Srinivasan
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Growing up in India naturally means growing up with the two epics that shape our cultural narrative. And just natural for most people is the instinctive choice they make between the two, picking their favourites without ever knowing they’ve made the choice.

For me, the Mahabharata was always the more intricately woven tapestry. You can pick any thread in the tale and follow it singularly to find new perspectives, hidden designs, anger, sorrow - even Niravana Vyasa would like you to believe.

The R
Karissa Laurel
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a long review because I haven't had something strike me so viscerally as the Ramayana and, consequently, The Forest of Enchantments, in a long time, and I need to hash it out a bit. Some background:

I came to the Ramayana after hearing about it (and the Mahabharata, which I'll likely read next) in several Indian history books I've recently read. And also upon realizing the Ramlila, the drama of Ram and Sita and the battle with Ravana, was often featured in Hindi movies, usually appearing
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I started this book after finishing 'Palace of illusions'.
I had liked palace of illusions sooo much that I started reading this book with with high expectations. But I don't know why but this book failed to hook me initially. I had to drop this, finish a few other books and come back again.
But then when I started it after coming back, I couldn't drop this. Got me a tight hold. Again this is a book from female character's point of view. It is sita who tells the story to us. She speaks about urmi
Jul 23, 2020 rated it liked it
I was enlivened, buoyant to strike for the first time towards the mythological retellings.
I was enthusiast to be a part of such land where such great mythical characters have proved their valour.

Sita, her melancholy life, her renunciation, her dream, her duty .... The Forest of Enchantments depicts Sitayan in a musical way.
At first, I mean for first few chapters I love the way Chitra raised the feminism through Sita, somehow after sometime the story lost its charm, with few facts that I didn't
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An amazing write by Chitra Banerjee, where the hardships faced by Sita are the central idea. Sita has been an inspirational character for Indian women and continues to inspire the coming generation with her sacrifice of love and how she lead a simple and emotional life. The book is so well written that one can easily imagine each and every scene that goes on in the book in their minds. The transitions from one Chapter to another is so smooth that you can easily sink into the story for hours toge ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For me, this is exactly what world is selling in the name of feminism. Except the understanding that characters in Ramayan were mortels and had craving, I could get very little out of this book. I recommend you watch something on Netflix instead.
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“It’s not enough to merely love someone. Even if we love them with our entire being, even if we’re willing to commit the most heinous sin for their well-being. We must understand and respect the values that drive them. We must want what they want, not what we want for them.”

"What you cant change, you must endure"; "Endure your challenges!" This is what most of the Indian girls have been taught for generations. Chitra Banerjee's retelling of Ramayana- Sitayana (which is in the perspective of
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Then I recognize what they are singing. It's not Valmiki's great epic! They are singing the pages I'd written in my lonely darkness out of the need to give voice to all of us who were pushed to the edges. Misjudged, misunderstood"

Ramayana is one of the best pieces of literature the world has ever received. In the book "The Forest of Enchantments" this great epic is made contemporary by reciting it in the perspective of Sita, the heroine of the story. The description of Sita's life from a daught
Shweta Paropkari
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I could see the men wouldn't change their minds. Their belief in superiority of their own ways was deeply ingrained in them.

Banarjee is one of the three Indian authors whose work I look forward to reading (the other two being Devdutt Patnaik and Amitav Ghosh). The Forest of Enchantments does not disappoint in the least. A re-telling of Ramayana from Sita's perspective, it is a poignant and heart-breaking tale.
Above all, Banarjee takes this epic tale of good triumphing over evil and tells it li
Sudeepta Pradhan (booksteaandmore)

The forest of enchantment is the retelling of Ramayana from Sita's perspective. It is Sitayana where Sita narrates her story.

The author creates a beautiful tapestry of Sita's life and we follow her journey right from the time she was a young princess at Mithila to the time she is married to Ram, the tough life she leads there and her banishment by Ram. The story is told from the first person perspective. The author has handled the story with innate simplicity with no exaggeration or downplaying
Ramya Abhinand
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read the complete review here

I have read, seen and heard a dozen odd versions of the Ramayan. But the simplicity with which Chitra Banerjee’s latest “The Forest of Enchantments” lays it out, completely won me over. The book is by far one of the best versions of the Ramayan I have some across. This retelling portrays not only the elements of honor, love and duty the story holds within, but it also brings out the inherent sexism that has prevailed in our cu
Indra Nooyi
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hearing a classic story retold from a new perspective is a refreshing way to broaden the ways we see the world around us. “The Forest of Enchantments” does this brilliantly, bringing new life to the stories of the women in an epic tale. The Ramayana is a story many of us know so well, and reading it from Sita’s perspective was a fascinating adventure.
Aditi Gupta
Apr 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Sometimes playing with original epics can prove fatal. This book is an example of how bad it can look like.
Richa Purohit
Mar 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
Pleas don’t ruin epics like Ramayana with your limited knowledge in the area of mythology. You really hurt sentiments.
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Eclectic Readers: The Forest of Enchantments 1 7 Jul 08, 2020 11:01AM  

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Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. Her themes include the Indian experience, contemporary America, women, immigration, history, myth, and the joys and challenges of living in a multicultural world. Her work is widely known, as she has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 ant ...more

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“And finally, I bless my daughters, who are yet unborn. I pray that, if life tests them—as sooner or later life is bound to do—they’ll be able to stand steadfast and think carefully, using their hearts as well as their heads, understanding when they need to compromise, and knowing when they must not.” 11 likes
“Even if we love them with our entire being, even if we’re willing to commit the most heinous sin for their well-being. We must understand and respect the values that drive them. We must want what they want, not what we want for them.” 8 likes
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