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The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee…
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The Palace of Illusions

by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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4752121,755 (3.9)72
Recently added byCiarda, AsACC_UConn, kday_working, arena50, Abhishikth, annaliz95, erelsi183, kitzyl, private library
  1. 10
    Mahābhārata (William Buck ed.) by Vyasa (marq)
    marq: Another retelling of Mahabharata. Palace of Illusions from the point of view of Draupadi.
  2. 11
    The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie (weeksj10)
    weeksj10: Similar female characters and retelling of myth.
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You know those books that are good enough while you’re reading them, but you realize only halfway through — or even after the fact — that they’ve somehow soaked deeper into your being than you’d thought? The kind you enjoy, but you can’t point to the one thing about them that makes them so spectacular? The Palace of Illusions was one of those books.

I really feel like Divakaruni accomplished what she set out to do: to relate the famous, oft-told stories of the Mahabharat through the eyes of its most famous heroine. She also did a wonderful job trimming, condensing, and streamlining to fashion the story through Panchaali’s eyes. Purists might be annoyed that a particular side story was brushed over or omitted, but the novel feels complete as Panchaali’s own story and stays true enough to the details I know, and that was plenty for me.

Full review is posted on Erin Reads. ( )
  erelsi183 | Sep 5, 2014 |
There were elements of this book, a retelling of the Mahabharata, that were wonderful, which is why I decided to say I really liked it, even though there were other elements that I found problematic.

Wonderful elements: Any parts with Krishna. Divakaruni really has created a believable incarnate god; I wanted to be in his presence and I was interested in everything he said. He was playful and wise, careless and kind. Inspired.

Vyasa, the sage who is writing the Mahabharata, and who tells Panchaali her future. Great scene where he first creates the hazy smoke she must walk into, and she asks him what it is, and he says, it's a formula for keeping away bugs. Awesome :-)

Panchaali's relationship with her brother. Very sweet.

All the details--food, silk, stone, plants, sounds, scents. Mmmm, blissful.

Elements I found problematic: the [arbitrary:] development of her feelings for Karna. She loves him, loves him, loves him, then hates him passionately ... then doesn't, and in fact, loves him again. This is not inconsistent with human behavior, but for some reason, in this story, I found it hard to believe. I felt--but don't know, as I haven't read the Mahabharata itself, yet--as if the author was trapped by the epic and had to make Panchaali fit with how the tale goes, but it didn't persuade me. I did like, however, the very final vision we get of Panchaali and Karna.

I found that, for me, from the destruction of the Palace of Illusions (and hey, it's built by Maya, the same Maya=illusion in Buddhism, too) through the horrible epic battles, I felt weary. I've never been a big fan of the Bhagavad-gita, so I was interested to see what I'd feel when I read Divakaruni's take on it. The philosophy still leaves me cold, and yet it was oddly moving to read it.

I'm reading through the Mahabharata now (though I don't have it marked down on Good Reads). I'm very glad I read this. ( )
  FrancescaForrest | May 12, 2014 |
There were elements of this book, a retelling of the Mahabharata, that were wonderful, which is why I decided to say I really liked it, even though there were other elements that I found problematic.

Wonderful elements: Any parts with Krishna. Divakaruni really has created a believable incarnate god; I wanted to be in his presence and I was interested in everything he said. He was playful and wise, careless and kind. Inspired.

Vyasa, the sage who is writing the Mahabharata, and who tells Panchaali her future. Great scene where he first creates the hazy smoke she must walk into, and she asks him what it is, and he says, it's a formula for keeping away bugs. Awesome :-)

Panchaali's relationship with her brother. Very sweet.

All the details--food, silk, stone, plants, sounds, scents. Mmmm, blissful.

Elements I found problematic: the [arbitrary:] development of her feelings for Karna. She loves him, loves him, loves him, then hates him passionately ... then doesn't, and in fact, loves him again. This is not inconsistent with human behavior, but for some reason, in this story, I found it hard to believe. I felt--but don't know, as I haven't read the Mahabharata itself, yet--as if the author was trapped by the epic and had to make Panchaali fit with how the tale goes, but it didn't persuade me. I did like, however, the very final vision we get of Panchaali and Karna.

I found that, for me, from the destruction of the Palace of Illusions (and hey, it's built by Maya, the same Maya=illusion in Buddhism, too) through the horrible epic battles, I felt weary. I've never been a big fan of the Bhagavad-gita, so I was interested to see what I'd feel when I read Divakaruni's take on it. The philosophy still leaves me cold, and yet it was oddly moving to read it.

I'm reading through the Mahabharata now (though I don't have it marked down on Good Reads). I'm very glad I read this. ( )
  FrancescaForrest | May 12, 2014 |

Before I started reading this book, a friend of mine told me 'Don't.'

Mythological retellings rarely stays true to form, he said. It trivializes characters, you lose all respect for the people you admired. Don't.

I wish I'd listened to him.

I can't elaborate on what made me stop reading. Some parts of me made me admire it. Others bewildered me(Draupadi and Karna's insta-romance).

I read the Mahabharatha eons ago as a kid. It's my favorite Indian epic(Given that there are only two...). Draupadi isn't one of my most favorite characters and I actually liked looking from Draupadi's eyes. But it felt like petty feelings ruled her life. And like we were missing out on the bigger picture.

So, no. ( )
  ashpapoye | Jan 24, 2014 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is Mahabharata written from Draupadi's perspective. I had wished for this book when I had read M.T. Vasudevan Nair's 'Randamoozham' which is written from Bheema's perspective. ( )
  sudhakrishnan | Nov 20, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385515995, Hardcover)

A reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic, the Mahabharat—told from the point of view of an amazing woman.

Relevant to today’s war-torn world, The Palace of Illusions takes us back to a time that is half history, half myth, and wholly magical. Narrated by Panchaali, the wife of the legendary Pandavas brothers in the Mahabharat, the novel gives us a new interpretation of this ancient tale.

The novel traces the princess Panchaali's life, beginning with her birth in fire and following her spirited balancing act as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father’s kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at their side through years of exile and a terrible civil war involving all the important kings of India. Meanwhile, we never lose sight of her strategic duels with her mother-in-law, her complicated friendship with the enigmatic Krishna, or her secret attraction to the mysterious man who is her husbands' most dangerous enemy. Panchaali is a fiery female redefining for us a world of warriors, gods, and the ever-manipulating hands of fate.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:11 -0400)

In a retelling of the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata, Panchaali, wife of the five legendary Pandavas brothers, chronicles the problems of dealing with five husbands who have been cheated out of their birthright.

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