Title: The Palace of Illusions Author: Chitra Banerjee Genre: Historical Fiction Published: Feb 2008
When one talks about illusion, my mind somehow travels back to the time when Duryodhana faced the insult at Indraprastha. At times I really wish I could invent a time the machine and go back to that period and witness the entire story myself. This book was basically on my list already and I happen to find it at Starmark in Kolkata (they have the amazing collection of books, just to let you know and plus, they have an online store as well!)
“Expections are like hidden rocks in your path, all they do is trip you up”
The name of the book is referred as the name of the palace at Indraprastha which was the resident of Panchali and her five husband’s, Yudhishtra, Bheema, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahdeva. The novel is narrated by princess Draupadi herself (or Panchali, which was her preference). The story with her birth in the fire along with her brother, Dhristaduymna, who was the only one looking after her throughout her childhood, till she got married. Before choosing her husband, she almost chose the love of her life, King of Anga, Karna but for the sake of her destiny, Krishna made sure that she chooses Pandu Putra, Arjuna. Leaving behind her true love and her dignity, she follows Arjuna to his home where she ends up being shared between Arjuna and his other four brothers, thus a total of five husbands. She became the first woman to ever live with five husbands. Being the Queen of Indraprastha and as her duty, Draupadi needs to help them reclaim their birthright after the insult she faced by Duryodhana, Duhsasna and rest of their brothers, in front of the entire courtroom in Hastinapur. Draupadi needs to remain at the side of her husbands through years of exile and the Mahabharata Yudh where she loses every last bit of her very being. She struggles the tussle between her and Kunti, balancing the act as a woman with five husbands and the most torturous attraction to the man who is her husband’s arch-enemy.
“I am buoyant and expansive and uncontainable- but I always was so, only I never knew it!”
One thing for sure, after reading this book I became all the more clear about Draupadi’s character. From the very beginning, I found her arrogant, self-obsessed, highly partial and most importantly a bit shrewd.
The writing is very simple and clean which is absolutely beautiful. The basis of the novel is the original Mahabharata story with a little addition of Karna-Draupadi’s story, brilliantly done. I used to read the Karna and Draupadi’s part over and over again, first, cause it is beautifully written and second because I myself have a deep attraction towards him. In short, a very beautiful and soothing book.