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Publisher's Summary

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!'

©2019 Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Forest of Enchantments

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Mesmerising narration for an okay story

Suchitra Pillai has one of the most riveting voices and she absolutely arrests your attention for the duration of her narration. Aiding her is pretty good writing by the writer Chitra Banerjee. There are occasional uses of words that make you scurry to a dictionary, but the story is presented clearly and as beautiful as it could get. However, there is absolutely nothing exemplary about this book. It's the exact same tale that we have been hearing about from ages, excepted that it is narrated by Sita. In the beginning, you are promised the sides of Kaikeye, Urmila and even Sunaina. However, the only single narration you hear is that of Sita and her absolutely ludicrous ideas about love. At some point, the book feels like a justification for Ram's actions and you even begin to feel irritated with Sita. Her character arc gets extremely confusing. From a girl who has been raised with absolute independence, to someone who longs to keep going back to her husband despite his (justified-in-the-story) mistreatment - it becomes difficult to conjure what is happening. It is only Suchitra Pillai's wonderful narration that keeps you trudging ahead. To be fair, I don't think the writer could have done a lot of difference. There is a tale that is etched into every Indian's conscience since his/her childhood and the writer seems wary of even slightly challenging that. That is honestly what I was expecting. We never knew what Sita was undergoing while Ram was preparing against Ravan or when she was banished forever, since the telling has always been from Ram's point of view. This book does touch upon it, but there isn't a substantial part of that. That is one more disappointment from this book. I would suggest that you purchase this audio book only if you want to hear Suchitra Pillai's brilliant narration of a good writing by Chitra Banerjee, but don't expect anything different here.

3 people found this helpful

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Fabulous

loved it, the story captures all the aspects of Sita's life. really amazing. i liked

2 people found this helpful

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Different perspective to Ramayan

i have read Devedutt Patnaik Ramayan, but that had hardly anything on Sita. this one actually is dedicated to her end to end. Since it's a different perspective from Sita POV, often ignored by popular narrators. even great people have to go through their bit of hardship to attain greatness. sita embodied a lot of things into one - queen, goddess, wife, friend, mother.... and some roles are often conflicting with other. how Sita overcomes the tragedies that life put her through again and again.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved the narration rich with emotion

I am glad I heard it on Audible because the narration by Suchitra Pillai added a fascinating richness to the story.

1 person found this helpful

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exceptional

exceptional novel and beautiful demonstrated in melodious voice.must read and hear.indian writer and mythological stories are deep and incredible

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Beautifully written and equally well-narrated

My first experience of an audiobook turned out to be an amazing one. My initial reservations of the narrator coming between me and the protagonist soon vanished and I was totally transported by Suchitra Pillai into Sita‘s world. Sita‘s trials, tribulations, joyous times and her interpretations of the various facets of love, so beautifully described by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, make you feel for her and respect her for the amazing woman she was.

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Enchanted by the Sitayan

I have grown up in a household where the Ramayana is held sacred and sung before every big event in the family, where "Jai Sri Ram" is whispered into a newborn's ears and and the scripture is given as a blessing to a daughter getting married, perhaps implying that just like Sita the girl remains dutiful and respectful as she enters into a new family. So invariably, I have heard numerous stories of Ramayana and watched the dramatized version on TV several times as a child. Thus developing reverence for the same, was inevitable. Until, I grew up into this unapologetic feminist, developed a logic and reasoning of my own and started questioning the sacred book despite the immense respect that had been etched in my heart since childhood. Reading #theforestofenchantments was one  attempt at finding those answers. However, it did not quench my thirst for an answer to what Ram thought of why he did what he did to Sita and what was his justification for the same. But this book, it did appease me with profound knowledge about Sita and every woman in the Ramayana - Kaushalya, Urmila, Kaikeyi, Sunaiana, Mandodri, Surpanakha and all others (all overshadowed in the original version) who all in their special ways, leave for every daughter of today, a lesson to learn. Just like Sita, every modern Indian woman knows her duties towards her household, her parents, husband and children. But also like every modern Indian woman of today, Sita knew that she had to stand up for her own rights and respect and dignity. Every woman has great strength to endure the sufferings and great valor to fight the battles of life but that does not mean she must be subjected to endless trials, because every woman also has the great power to be a rebel and change the world for both better and for worse. Having said that, this Sitayan is a beautiful read, the #audibleversion is an enchanting narration in the voice of #suchitapillai. And the Ramayana from Sita's perspective is even more beautiful, because from the perspective of  love and compassion with which a woman can see can never be matched by any man. Throught the course of this epic, Sita beautifully tells us how Love in its various forms has the power to bring forth joy in union, hurt in seperation, greed, destruction, devotion and so much more. At times the trials Sita was put to, outraged the feminist in me, but the courageous and dignified woman that Sita is, makes me believe in her with great pride.

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It's well done!

Very well narrated a different perspective for the story I have heard all my childhood, I loved this seetayana,it sounds true and practical rather then like a story.

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A story that needs to be heard!

@cdivakaruni Just finished The Forest of Enhancements, and totally in love with your interpretation of the story from Sita's pov. Crisp and brilliant storytelling without hiding the flaws or over-glorifying any character. Thank you for beautiful storytelling! 🙏🏻

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Fantastic and Loved it so much.

This is 'Sitayan'. Throughout her whole life Sita was deprived of permanent stable tranquility. Exiled by mother-in-law just after a few days of marriage, hardships of forest, abducted by the asura king Ravana, facing fire trilogy after getting rescued and then banishment by beloved husband Ram, she vowed to love all her life. She has introduced a whole new perspective, instead of retelling it in it's original pristine masculine form, she places Sita at the core center of the novel. Sita is the narrator of this novel. The author does justice to the female voice, with its intricacies and emotions. It shows how Sita as a woman could empathise with other women around her, who have been wronged due to society or their family members.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-05-20

The women's view

I've always been sceptical about the ramayan as I felt the stories of the women were lost in the justification of the actions of the men. The good deeds of "villains" were silence to maximise the righteousness of the "heroes". I've always loved Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni as she has a unique way of retelling a story. I felt all the emotion I felt were missing perfectly portrait.

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  • May
  • 30-11-20

Epic retelling of Ramayana

I felt transported into a magical world...the characters are brought to life, their emotions human and relatable.

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  • Love audio
  • 29-10-20

The Forest of Enchantment

I would recommend this for reads of all walks of life as it has great teachings for struggles and stuffing that one endures for the greater good. I’ve added this tittle to my favourites🥰🤗