Title: The Forest of Enchantments
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Publisher: Harper Collins
Blurb: The Ramayana, one of the world’s greatest epics, is also a tragic love story. In this brilliant retelling, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni places Sita at the centre of the novel: this is Sita’s version. The Forest of Enchantments is also a very human story of some of the other women in the epic, often misunderstood and relegated to the margins: Kaikeyi, Surpanakha, Mandodari. A powerful comment on duty, betrayal, infidelity and honour, it is also about women’s struggle to retain autonomy in a world that privileges men, as Chitra transforms an ancient story into a gripping, contemporary battle of wills. While the Ramayana resonates even today, she makes it more relevant than ever, in the underlying questions in the novel: How should women be treated by their loved ones? What are their rights in a relationship? When does a woman need to stand up and say, ‘Enough!’
Review: When I first received the book, I thought that The Forest of Enchantments is some mythological story. But I could never guess that it is a Sitayana. Yes, it is Ramayana told from the point of view of Sita.
For years, I used to watch the animated Ramayana on Cartoon Network. And Ram was certainly a hero I adored. But this book changes all of that. Sita is not just a damsel-in-distress as she is quite often showed to be. She is a warrior, a healer and a powerful princess (and queen).
What I love about The Forest of Enchantments is that it puts the spotlight on the female characters. Whether it is Sita, Lakshman’s wife Urmila, Ram’s mother Kaushalya and the other females in this epic. This is indeed a refreshing take on the story that we have grown up listening to. Why? Because it feels like you are reading something new altogether.
While the protagonists may be Gods, they are here on earth as humans. They have fallacies just like us and the love story of Sita and Ram, as complicated as it may be, makes you both laugh and cry, gush and angry. This is what I love about this book- it makes you feel your feelings. Not every author can do that.
Price: 304 INR for a hardcover and 243.20 INR on Kindle.
Buy it on Amazon here.