The Palace of Illusions
By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385515993, 384pp.)
Publication Date: February 12, 2008
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A reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic, the Mahabharat—told from the point of view of an amazing woman.
Relevant to today’s 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 father’s 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.
CHITRA BANERJEE DIVAKARUNI is the author of the bestselling novels Queen of Dreams, Mistress of Spices, Sister of My Heart, and The Vine of Desire, and of the prizewinning story collections Arranged Marriage and The Unknown Errors of Our Lives. She lives in Houston, Texas, and teaches creative writing at the University of Houston.
Praise for The Palace of Illusions
“The Palace of Illusions is a woman's look at crime and punishment, loyalty, promises and love and vengeance. With The Palace of Illusions, along with her other bestselling novels, Divakaruni has proven that her storytelling talents put her right up there with the best.” —The Miami Herald
Divakaruni’s historic and transporting variation adds new and truly revelatory psychological and social dimensions to the great epic’s indelible story of sacrifice and spiritual awakening. Divakaruni has triumphantly fulfilled a profound mission.”— Donna Seaman, Booklist, Starred
"The Palace of Illusions is unique, amongst Divakaruni's very best. It is particularly refreshing to read an author who breaks the mold as clearly as Divakaruni does.. . . A creative, illuminating feminist work that compels us to re-examine the original text. . . . As in all great cathartic tales, Divakaruni's novel grasps our attention from beginning to end and is a healing, aesthetic experience." —India Currents
“Divakaruni’s historic and transporting variation adds new and truly revelatory psychological and social dimensions to the great epic’s indelible story of sacrifice and spiritual awakening. Divakaruni has triumphantly fulfilled a profound mission.” – Booklist
“Vivid and inventive. . . . rich, action-filled. . . complex." - Publishers Weekly
"An intimate, feminine portrait that is both contemporary and timeless; a ambitious project effectively executed.” – Kirkus Reviews
“A lyrical tale imbued with the scent of ancient incense yet . . . rooted in modern day relevancy.” – Book Page
“Divakaruni has taken a male centered story and breathed new life into its female characters, giving us a rich tale of passion and love, power and weakness, honor and humiliation. Entertaining, insightful and suspenseful.” – Library Journal, starred review