As soon as I started reading this book, I was overwhelmed with a strong feeling of nostalgia. All the memories of my beloved grandmother basking in the afternoon sun and telling me the fascinating tales of Mahabharata came rushing back to me. I believe the Mahabharata stories constitute an integral part of the childhood of millions of people across this nation. Therefore, Divakaruni deserves a lot of credit for being brave enough to write about a saga which has been reconstructed innumerable times over centuries.
I remember when I was a kid, I used to be in awe of Draupadi. She was the perfect daughter, perfect wife and the perfect queen. This story takes away the entire enigma surrounding Draupadi’s character and makes her very approachable. I enjoyed reading about her childhood, her dreams and aspirations before her life became a series of tragedies. The sibling bond is very well painted .It made me want to read more about her brother,Drishtadhyumna(I had never really paid any attention to this character before). Since the whole story is told from Draupadi’s perspective, it obviously has a strong feminist undertone. The backdrop maybe of Mahabharata but I genuinely believe the modern day woman can very easily relate to the protagonist’s difficult choices and heartbreaking sacrifices. I loved the fact that Draupadi was not portrayed as the victim in the book (unlike most of the time in my grandmother’s stories).Instead it was her thirst for vengeance which lead to the Great War. To be honest, I found the Panchaali-Karna angle equation quite unimpressive. Sometimes I just fail to understand why all authors need to provide an unrequited love angle in the life of almost every strong female character of literature. It is like feminism cannot be portrayed without an unfulfilled love affair.
The writing is not very sophisticated. In fact, the prose gets repetitive at times. Overall, a quick and easy read. Any Indian mythology lover will definitely enjoy it if willing to overlook few flaws.