Ellen (Longmeadow MA)
A fairytale for women
If you enjoy fantasy, romance novels, mythology and fairytales, this book is for you, and only for you. It centers around the life of Panchaali, a Princess who marries five brothers -all at the same time- and the power struggle between two families. It is based upon "a world famous Indian epic" but I found the writing to be condescending and uninspiring. There are many characters in the story which I found difficult to keep track of, especially when I didn't pick up the book for a couple of days. In fact, the book has a family chart, a glossary of characters and an author's note to help the reader keep track of all of the characters. Nonetheless, I still struggled to keep them and each of their travails straight. It is chick-lit without the wit, spice and fun. In summary, the book wasn't as satisfying as I hoped it would be.
Renee (Murfreesboro TN)
Palace Of Illusions
This book was a fabulous book. I read it all in one setting. It was well written and interesting to be thrown into another culture's myths and beliefs. It was fascinating. The author used foreshadowing often, because of all those hints I was dying to devour the book, I wanted to know what happened! The main character, Panchaali, was really fun to get to know, she was strong and personable. I would recommend this book to book clubs because there are many ideas and topics that can spring people into conversation. Honestly, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good book with adventure, culture and love.
Barbara (Plaquemine LA)
The Palace of Illusions
Although I found the book had many "gaps" I did enjoy reading it. The gaps occurred because many characters were not well defined and because the plot is shaky. What is the main character really seeking? Actually the story line comes down to the relationship between Princess Panchaali and her mother-in-law.
Much emphasis is placed on family devotion yet the Princess gives birth to two sons and no mention is made of them until almost the end of the story. Only two of her five husbands are given any attention at all and one of those are addressed only in passing. The reader learns nothing of the others. The same can be said of the only two people in her life who are faithful to her, her brother and good friend, Krishna.
Despite these flaws the books does hold one's interest.
There is much fantasy in the book but if it the reader is given to this the book is worth reading.
Nancy C. Cullinan (Santa Barbara, CA)
The Palace of Illusions was my introduction to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's work, and it was a pleasure to read. Her book definitely qualifies for what I call the "under the covers with a flashlight" award. Let me stress that I value my sleep, but so as not to disturb my hubby, I found myself clutching the flashlight for just a few more pages of magical, mystical, delightful story-telling before I drifted off to sleep. I'm eager to read everything else she has written.
Beverly Grindeland (Stratford CT)
The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakuruni
This was an interesting well-written story. Although it is a little
difficult to follow the plot without some knowledge of the story of
the "Mahabharata", which has been called the national epic of India. I looked up the story of the Mahabharata on the Internet (Google it) and found several sites with a good synopsis. The author has done a good job of giving voices to these mythical
The Palace of Illusions is a good example of why I love to read Historical Fiction. It was interesting to read and I was informed of something I didn't know before reading the book.
Heatherhe (Orlando FL)
A Beautifully Moving Saga
It was with great pleasure that I dove into Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and upon reading it, I was not disappointed. I have read nearly all of Divakaruni's books, and this is just another in a long line of colorful, magical, and insightful offerings from this author. The story is the tale of the life of Panchaali, an Indian historical/mythical character from the famous Mahabharat. The book is filled with touches of magical realism and character portrayals that will keep the reader engaged and craving more of the story. The story has much to say about the awful destruction that war wreaks upon its participants, and also contains many illuminating passages speculating the divine in everyday life. The last passages are hauntingly beautiful, and remarkably moving. If you are looking for a flavorful yet unconventional re-telling of some of India's most marvelous stories, you can't go wrong with this gem of a book. Highly recommended.
Anne (Fredonia WI)
Magic and Mystery in the Palace of Illusions
The Palace of Illusions is full of magic and imagery as only Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni can create. Her style of magical realism rivals those of the Latin American writers, establishing a new genre of Indian mysticism. The novel is a retelling of an ancient Indian text, but has all of the elements of a modern tale, sure to become a classic in its own right.