Top critical review
Disappointing. Doesn't deliever what it claims.
15 February 2019
The story of Ramayana, its wonders and lessons are ingrained in our lives as Indians. It is a remarkable piece of literature, rightly an epic, a timeless legend. But as is the case with most ancient texts it is steeped in patriarchy and a sense of injustice and unfairness forver stains its otherwise holy pages. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni promises to undo the injustice, promises to give voice to the voiceless and neglected females of the legend. "Write our story, too,” Sita hears the voices of the female characters of Ramayana “For always we’ve been pushed into corners, trivialised, misunderstood, blamed, forgotten – or maligned and used as cautionary tales". Thus the prologue offers a lot of promise.
But does the book deliever the hefty claims? No it doesn't.
I'm sorry to say ( sorry because I expected so much) the book offers no unique insight as is promised.
It repaints Ramayana in the same colours, only the prose is poorer and the language far from engrossing. The writing is banal and Sita's ponderings do not offer anything unique. No thought provoking insights into the happenings and the characters. The writing seems hurriedly done, and the repeated conclusions that Sita keeps drawing about 'love' mar the flow of reading. Phrases like "So that's what love is", "Love does this to you.. " keep appearing every now and then, which honestly is poorly done and very annoying.
The writer has nothing new to offer through the voice of Sita.
This is the same Sita of Ramayana - the dutiful wife, the loving mother, the selfless queen, the abandoned hermitess.
What of her as an individual, as the woman she was? Nothing of the sort did I come across in this book except the fact that she was an excellent healer and trained in war skills but it is toned down to exude the sterotypical femininity.
I didn't find her voice empowering and inspiring. It's the same lamenting cry awash with sad tears and longing.
Same with other female characters. Looks like most stories are stuffed and doesn't seem like their 'voices' were fairly heard.
What is worse is that the injustice delivered by male characters be it Sage Gautam or Lord Ram or Lakshmana or even Ravana is kept veiled under the garb of their duty and morals. They are glorified and presented as noble men who can't be blamed for their actions however cruel or unjust they had been. The book fails here to call spade a spade.
Also the writer tries to add philosophical angles at times but it simply makes it sound more superficial and manufactured.
This book disappointed me both as a reader and as a woman. This is one of those few books I regret reading. The hype is seriously out of my comprehension as it is a very pretentious attempt at something that could've been groundbreaking and impactful.