Blurb (as on Goodreads):
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 honor, 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!’
I have been hiding behind other books because this book has such rave and glorious reviews, but it failed to impress me. For a person, who is a huge fan of Mythology, and has read about 4 retelling of ‘The Ramayana’, this book felt fairly mediocre,
As I highlighted on my Instagram post, I had a few issues with this book. The first was Sita’s relationship with the other characters. This aspect which would have helped us build a better version of Sita in our minds was missing throughout the book. Lakshman treated Sita as his mother. and respected her. But that chemistry was lacking here because there’s barely any verbal exchange between them. Sita- the daughter of Janak, has been described as a kind-hearted, learned warrior, but the father who believed so much in her and gave her the position on the princess, is missing in action too.
Sita talks about love throughout the book and how each event shapes her understanding of love and that, love is about sacrifices and hard choices. The story is from Sita’s POV, Sita talks about a stubborn, determined and righteous Ram, and the book looks like its written from a position of pain rather than love. The writing was beautiful at places and felt like a drag at others, and I did feel that certain events were written in haste as Ramayana is a huge epic, and turning it into a novel can only be done by cutting down words and in some cases, emotions.
I loved the ending the most because that was the Sita, I expected from this book- kind-hearted but ready to stand up for herself because she is Goddess and she bows to no one.