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The Forest of Enchantments

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,961 ratings  ·  462 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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Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-stars, 2019-release
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.
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
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,
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
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
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 its
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
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
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
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
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
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.

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
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
Ritika Chhabra
Follow Just A Girl High On Books for more reviews.

I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange fro an honest review.

"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 sins 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."

Let me start with how beautiful the cover of this book really is. I still can't believe
Atulaa Krishnamurthy
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this book. Divakaruni is a terrific writer and while I had issues with Palace of Illusions (Panchali's unilateral longing for Karna and his 'ancient eyes', her only character trait being her distrust of Kunti and other women...), it was still the OG reimagining of the epics from a woman character's standpoint and blew my 16 year old mind when I read it. The Forest of Enchantment's Sita cares about and learns from sisterhood (with Ahalya, Surpanakha and Urmila - much like the protagonist in ...more
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
HarperCollinspeople asked me to review this book ‘The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’ I jumped with joy, because one of Author Chitra’s previous bookThe Palace of Illusionis one of my favorite books and the impact it left on me was huge, hence the level of excitement for this latest book was obviously high.

My Views

This novel ‘The Forest of Enchantments by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’ is a modernretellingof the age-old saga of Ramayana, through Sita’s perspective, this
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
Sahil Pradhan
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ten years after the publication of The Palace of Illusions, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novel in the voice of Draupadi from the Mahabharata, she returns with a sister-novel – one she describes as “the most challenging project of (her) life.” The Forest of Enchantments is the Ramayana as observed and understood by Sita – a queen exiled, held captive, and exiled again.

Faithful to the original plot of the Ramayan, the novel imagines a version of Sita who navigates the myriad humiliations in her
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An epic with countless versions, narrated in hundred of different ways to suit the reader - it is indeed a mammoth of a task to narrate it in yet another perspective.

The version of Ramayana I read as a child was conspicuously devoid of certain emotions and events like the Agni Pariksha or banishment of Sita. It was a simple narration of a complicated story, narrated to ensure that a 10 year old understands the perils of stealing. As I grew up, I "heard" various versions of the same story
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing

At the surface, “The Forest of Enchantments” is Ramayana from Sita's perspective. Going deeper, it is that and much more..

It is a woman's story, ages ago and now. It's also a dissection of patriarchy and its roots, strengthened and nurtured at times by women themselves.

Shocking as it seems, not much seems to have changed deep down. Just like Sita, we women today, are up in arms against the Ravanas who try to violate physically or mentally, outside homes. But what’s worse is that just like Sita,
Brij Tank
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I started reading this book because i was very much impressed by The Palace of illusions.

Rewriting and retelling a tale which is not unheard of is itself a difficult task, but writing and story telling is unprecedented and the portrayal of Sita is so very poignant and beautiful, it left me in tears in moments of turmoil in her life.

I've been listening to tales from Ramayan since my childhood and now i realise how unconcerned i was about characters like Sita, Urmila, Mandodhari, etc and the
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I loved The Palace of Illusions. In fact, I adore it. So, when I read that the author is bringing out a similar book from the perspective of Sita, my hopes were sky-high. Maybe that is why I wasn't satisfied to the fullest. But I liked the book. I like the way in which she weaves the feminist aspects to the mythology. The prose was beautiful, fascinating and empowering. The way she described how love comes in different forms and brings with it different impacts was my favorite part.
Ananda Behera
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Found this book while surfing in the book store on my way home. After a long time, I was able to complete a book. Partly, because of the way it was written. The writer has put more empathy towards the women characters which they thoroughly deserved. It tries to give back some pride to them which were lost in glory tales of Ramayana. The book narrates different forms of love presented by its women protagonists and how they had navigated its consequences. It's a saga of love, endurance, and ...more
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a book I was waiting for with bated breath. I have more or less moved on from Mythological fiction but had to read this one. The voice of Sita is interesting, storied of other women in the book probably even more interesting. However, it didn't leave as big as a mark on me as Palace of Illusions. Could be the place I am in life or just the book, cannot say for sure.

It would probably be a 3.5 from me
Archita Mitra
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Aashisha Chakraborty
“And that is why, O King Ram, I must reject your kind offer to allow me to prove my innocence again. Because this is one of those times when a woman must stand up and say, No more!”

What a delight this book was to read! Through the immortal female characters of the Ramayana, the author has narrated the tale of every Indian woman, standing in the shadows beside the men.
At the start of the book, an exiled Sita takes up her pen to write the ‘Sitayan’ and complete Valmiki’s epic. She weaves the
Tara Bhatnagar
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoy the retelling of epics, especially from different points of view, but as much as I’d enjoyed reading ‘The Palace of Illusions’, Divakaruni’s exploration from Draupadi’s perspective, ‘The Forest of Enchantments’ was a big let down. This novel, Sita’s version of the Ramayana - the Sitayana - focusses more on her endless, often annoying, adoration of Ram than on her own feelings about her tumultous life being married to him. The language is either too formal or too casual, making you feel ...more
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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 ...more
“You aren’t some weak-willed wench. You can control your emotions. Remember all that you’ve survived. Behave like the queen you are. No one can take your dignity away from you. You lose it only by your own actions.” 4 likes
“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.” 4 likes
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