A reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic, the Mahabharat told from the point of view of the wife of an amazing woman.
Relevant to todays 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 fathers 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.
"Starred Review. Whether or not readers are familiar with the Mahabharat epic, still fascinating and relevant several millennia on, they will enjoy this entertaining, insightful, and suspenseful story. Recommended for all fiction collections." - Library Journal.
"Despite an intrusive retrospective voice and a sometimes heavy-handed feminism, Divakaruni's rich, action-filled narrative contrasts well with the complex psychological portrait of a mythic princess." - Publishers Weekly.
"Occasionally the novel falls flat - decades and events flash by with mere mention, one suspects a result of compressing such a rich work into such a small space - but Divakaruni mostly succeeds in creating an intimate, feminine portrait that is both contemporary and timeless." - Kirkus Reviews.
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Rated of 5
shaikh m a
an interesting exploration into female psychology
I personally admire the author for her judicious effort to redefine the epic poem the Mahabharat from feminine perspective.
Rated of 5
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.
Rated of 5
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.
Rated of 5
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.
Rated of 5
Nancy C. Cullinan
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.
Rated of 5
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.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning author and poet. 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 anthologies. Her works have been translated into 13
languages, including Dutch, Hebrew and Japanese.
She was born in India and lived there until 1976, at which point she left Calcutta and came to the United States. She continued her education in the field of English by receiving a Masters degree from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.
To earn money for her education, she held many odd jobs, including babysitting, selling merchandise in an Indian boutique, slicing bread in...
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