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Book Review: 'The Palace of Illusions' by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
“Love comes like lightning, and disappears the same way. If you are lucky, it strikes you right. If not, you'll spend your life yearning for a man you can't have.” ― Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, The Palace of Illusions
Abiran Raveenthiran
Regional Sales Manager
Canada
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The Mahabaratam is easily one of the most influential works of Hinduism with lessons and familial bonds weaved within it. The Palace of Illusions is the retelling of this famous literature from Draupadi's view, and trials. This woman was born out of fire, married to five brave warriors whom are also brothers, one who refused to learn the lessons Krishna, a God incarnate, taught her, an obsession of vengeance, and spurned the world for having been the cause of the great battle of Mahabaratam, the battle that saw clans obliterated, and warriors dead.

"All this time I'd believed in my power over my husbands. I'd believed that because they loved me they would do anything for me. But now I saw that though they did love me—as much perhaps as any man can love—there were other things they loved more. Their notions of honor, of loyalty toward each other, of reputation, were more important to them than my suffering. They would avenge me later, yes, but only when they felt the circumstances would bring them heroic fame. A woman doesn't think that way. I would have thrown myself forward to save them if it had been in my power that day. I wouldn't have cared what anyone thought. The choice they made in the moment of my need changed something in our relationship. I no longer depended on them so completely in the future. And when I took care to guard myself from hurt, it was as much from them as from our enemies."

Often my reaction to reading older texts as such as the Mahabaratam is stunted by wondering why a character performed an act or reacted in a particular way. Though there is a strong following for protagonists, it is also a text that humanizes the antagonist and gives us the grey area for deep characters. There is a multitude of characters that causes some to get glossed over. Chitra has been able to shine a light on Draupadi's feminist role in a time where there is a lack of it. I couldn’t help but admire the hidden love that was given depth through the narrative. More importantly, she has been able to keep the complexity in the characters while also delivering an epic that keeps you glued to the book.

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Abiran Raveenthiran
Regional Sales Manager | Omnify
Canada
Abiran Raveenthiran is a first-generation born Canadian in Toronto, Ontario whose succe...
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