Author : Sai Swaroopa
Publisher : Rupa Publications
Genre : Historical, Mythology
Rating : 4 stars
Source : Review copy
Summary : Being born a princess, and raised by a loving father and three doting brothers would make life seem like a bed of roses to any woman. Born out of the sacred fire, Draupadi is no ordinary woman, and her destiny cannot be to walk the beaten path. Witnessing estrangement and betrayal within her own family makes her perceptive and intuitive beyond her years. Complicated marital relationships, a meteoric rise and a fateful loss, humiliation unheard of and a pledge of revenge, all culminating in a bloody war—her ordeal seemed never-ending. Yet she stands up to it all—never succumbing, never breaking. One of the most unforgettable characters of the Mahabharata, Draupadi shows what a woman is capable of. Told with great sensitivity and passion, this book brings alive a character of epic proportions that resonates with every reader across space and time.
This book broadly covers the Mahabharata story with Draupathi as the focal point, how the whole story revolves around her and what actually happened to her. Some liberties have been taken, for example in the original she shown to come down to earth as a fully grown woman but here she is shown from her young age.
The story starts with Rajamatha Uttara and her grandson, Bharata. She is the narrator of the story and she tells her grandson what actually happens while including herself as a character in the epic.
To fit such a large story into a regular sized paperback is definitely a challenge. So there are a few timeline jumps here and there. If you are familiar with the story of Mahabharata you will not find it difficult to follow. But at times it feels a little dissatisfying.
WHAT I LIKED
Contrary to popular belief, the princesses are shown to be trained in the same way that the princes are. From a feminist point of view the main characters, Draupathi, Subadhra etc are shown as strong people in their individual capacities. You cannot look at ancient text from a modern point of view but it does stand it’s ground in a lot of places
The Pandavas are shown with both their strengths and weaknesses. Usually most people tend to praise them to high heavens and completely ignore their faults but the author doesn’t do that here. She does a quick but thorough character breakdown and shows them for what they truly are.
The pace is steady, the language simple (the author doesn’t faff about with words to try and impressed the reader. She’s made it very accessible to most readers) and the characters well written. One can always argue that these are tried and tested characters and that there is hardly any work involved in making them great, but I like to think of it as characters that are written about so much that it’s hard to make them interesting. But Sai Swaroopa does manage to pull the reader in and keep them engaged, yet again, in these people’s lives.
WHAT I DISLIKED
It’s not that I specifically disliked anything. But I found that she was mostly obeying her mother in law and we don’t really get to see if she is annoyed by it or not. It is frustrating at times to see her turn into a puppet pushed onwards by her mother in law’s words.
Buy the book. It’s an excellent read. And you will like it for what it is.