Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni


If you are looking for a modern day commentary on the Mahabharata with respect to a feminist context, this book is your saviour. Feminism would still not be sufficient to encompass all the issues touched in this book. It is more like a beautifully opinionated monologue with flames of love, passion, sacrifice, compassion and an intricately woven wisdom of generations of telling and re-telling of the great epic. Which is why, this book appeals to the curious just like any treatise on Indian culture or myths.

Based on the story of Draupadi, the common wife of the Pandavas, the main protagonists of the story, the book talks about her journey from a love deprived childhood to an emotionally exploited adulthood. Her fears, her facets, her wishfulness, her inner wars, her passion, her pain, her angst, her allure, her compromises, her sacrifices, her exploitation, her determination and most important, her relationships. It changes your entire perception of draupadi as a queen, mother, wife, lover, daughter, friend and most important, a woman. It almost as if you can actually feel her emotions and relate to her. This makes it very contemporary in context and thought.

The best part about the book is the emotive value along with good prose. The words used touch your heart and you would not be surprised to find yourself in tears at many places throughout the course of the book. Draupadi has been portrayed in all her glory and mess. There is no form of hesitation and an attempt to censor any wish, emotion, or injustice. The major plot points of the epic have been beautifully depicted in a different perspective and her relationship with all her husbands and those who aren’t has been shown in a bold yet sombre way. More than mythology, the book talks about draupadi’s interpersonal and intrapersonal conflicts and solutions which makes this book stand out from the other books on indian epics. By laying more emphasis on how draupadi was as a woman and what she faced because of her deeds as well as deeds of her apparent protectors and not on the basic story of the epic and her character in that context, the book makes a worth read for all kinds of genre-lovers.

This book is a perfect companion of the thoughtful, the inquisitive, the aggressive, the cynical, the feminist, the meninist, the passive, the active, the contemplative and the neutral.

The reader in me overshadowed the critic in me while taking in the beauty and elegance of this book. Even otherwise, I’d have still given The Palace of Illusions a 5 star!

Book Details:

Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Publisher: Picador Year of Publishing: 2009
ISBN-13: 9780330458535 ISBN-10: 0330458531
Cover: Paperback No. of Pages: 384
MRP: Rs 399 Buy From:


(Review by Aayushi Shah)

Sprightly Spirit

About Sprightly Spirit

“I dare do all that may become a man. Who dares more is none”. And all, may be. It may be the vigor. Or the spirit. Or the courage to avoid being “politically correct” or bent. And, ban all averse with immaculate overture of graciously fathomable words firm in views. Subtle. Justifying the undying conscience. Values. Knowledge. And, dares to stay true. True to own. True to the world. And, to the words. With a dream in eyes it exists. In you. In me. In all. The sprite that never shies away. The spirit that never dies!


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