The Palace of Illusions: A Novel

By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Read by Sneha Mathan

12.35 Hours 02/01/2008 unabridged
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This vivid reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic Mahabharata takes us back to a time that is half history, half myth, and wholly magical. It is told by Panchaali, wife of the Pandava brothers, a fiery female redefining for us a world of gods and warriors. 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.

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Summary

Summary

Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award

This vivid reimagining of the world-famous Indian epic Mahabharata takes us back to a time that is half history, half myth, and wholly magical. It is told by Panchaali, wife of the Pandava brothers, a fiery female redefining for us a world of gods and warriors.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“A radiant entrée into an ancient mythology virtually unknown to the Western world…Remarkable.” Houston Chronicle
“An exotic escapist tale…Divakaruni has proven that her storytelling talents put her right up there with the best.” Miami Herald
“Divakaruni, renowned for her skillful take on women’s relationships, creates a very believable character in Panchaali, a queen who must choose between making history or following her true desires.” Oregonian
“Vivid and inventive…Divakaruni’s rich, action-filled narrative contrasts well with the complex psychological portrait of a mythic princess.” Publishers Weekly
“Sneha Mathan expertly handles Divakaruni’s magical retelling of the Indian epic The Mahabharata from a woman’s point of view. Mathan reveals an astonishing versatility and range…Best of all is Mathan’s complex creation of the mythic Princess Panchaali. Listeners will be enchanted by Mathan’s insights into her character as well as by Mathan’s voice, which is beautiful and elegantly expressive…Divakaruni’s deeply imaginative writing and Mathan’s skillful narration make a winning combination.”  AudioFile
“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. 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.” Library Journal
“By rendering the women characters as complexly as the men, and fully illuminating the ‘insanity of war’ and the fragility of civilization, 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 (starred review)
“Divakaruni has woven a lyrical tale imbued with the scent of ancient incense, yet simultaneously rooted in modern-day relevancy. Brimming with betrayals, religious fervor and war-torn streets, The Palace of Illusions is a journey experienced from the vantage point of Panchaali, a powerful woman driven by love, honor and, in the end, a fate that unfolds despite her resolve." BookPage
“Gods intervene, divine weapons waylay whole battalions, a fantastical palace inspires a war, yet Divakaruni manages to keep the story human and relevant…an intimate, feminine portrait that is both contemporary and timeless. An ambitious project effectively executed.” Kirkus Reviews

Reviews

Reviews

by Katherine 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

This book uses beautiful imagery and lush storytelling to create an incredible version of the world's most famous and beloved story.

This story centers around a young woman, born from fire, who changes the entire world simply by following her fate and destiny. She many ways is a myth, and yet she feels as relatable as any mortal woman. The author combines vivid imagery with complex characters to tell a story that is both captivating and heartbreakingly beautiful. For a western reader who may not be familiar with the original epic upon which this book is based, it forms a lovely introduction that leaves the reader wanting to learn more about the story itself, and the culture from which it came. It provides a beautiful female perspective without forgetting that women are just as flawed as any other human being. Well worth the read, despite being lengthy. There is no way to tell a short version of this story without losing some of the depth the author so deftly navigates. The book itself is well worth reading.

The narrator has perhaps one of the most soothing and lovely voices that has ever been recorded. I highly recommend listening to this audiobook, and hope that this author and narrator collaborate again soon.
by Jennifer12 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

Absolutely delightful and engaging

Very well narrated, engaging tale. I was sorry to reach the end. The performance was excellent.

Author

Author Bio: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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 is the Betty and Gene McDavid Professor of Writing at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Fiction/Literary
Runtime: 12.35
Audience: Adult
Language: English