On Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s The Forest of Enchantments
The book is based on the famous mythological epic The Ramayan. We have read and heard many versions of this great epic. But to read it from Sita’s perspective was refreshing as well as captivating.
The character of SITA has been portrayed in a unique manner. She is a goddess but at the same time very real and relatable. We have always read about Sita essentially as a dutiful daughter, devoted wife and loving mother. But the author has provided the character of Sita with many hues. She is beautiful and brave, compassionate yet stands by her convictions, a healer, a warrior and a passionate lover. With these admirable qualities and complexities, she unfolds as an almost perfect woman. She is the epitome of grace and poise but has the courage to speak her mind. As the layers of Sita’s character reveal themselves, the story begins to resonate with you. Ram too seems more real in this book as compared to the image most of us have. His wanting to please everyone, aspiring to be a righteous king, yet longing and loving his one true love Sita. The author has also brilliantly interwoven the stories of – Urmila, Kaikeyi, Mandodari, Surpanakha, Kaushalya and Ahalya who were equally important and have now finally been provided a voice in the book.
As you progress through the book, one begins to wonder – if it is the Ramayan rewritten or a brilliantly rendered fresh story. While nearing the completion of the book, I yearned for an end which would be a departure from the original rendition and was slightly disappointed that it was not to be.
I would strongly recommend this book to all Divakaruni fans as well as those planning to read her for the first time. She is a master story teller and has an in depth understanding of human relationships and emotions. She is able to create a setting for each of her stories with help of costumes, backdrops, flora n fauna in a manner like non other. Her ability to articulate this understanding is what sets her apart from other writers in the same genre.
A must read.
Rating – 4.5/5