November 2017

The Palace of Illusions: Book Review
[Lifestyle-December 2008]

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s latest novel, The Palace of Illusions, is an intrigueing and well-written book. It takes us back to a time that is half history, half myth, and magical. It is narrated by Panchaali. She is the wife of the five Pandavas brothers. Yes, she has five husbands! The novel gives us a new interpretation of the ancient tale Mahabharat. The Palace of Illusions spans through the life of Princess Panchaali, from her birth from fire to her last days. She attempts to balance between five husbands who have lost their kingdom and is swept into their quest to reclaim it. She remains by their sides during years of exile and civil war involving the kings of India.

The interesting tale takes us to another world. Mythical and magical India are combined with history and culture. Panchaali, also known as Draupadi struggles through life and no matter how much she tries to change her destiny her fate wins in the end. A bit confusing at times because of the various characters with difficult and rare names, The Palace of Illusions, is Divakaruni’s best work yet. Unlike her other novels, that our based in modern times such as The Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart, and The Vine of Desire; The Palace of Illusions is based in a more ancient and traditional India.

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