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The Forest of Enchantments

Narrated by: Suchitra Pillai
Length: 12 hrs and 45 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (123 ratings)

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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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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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Amazing..

Chitra and Suchitra.. both equally enchanting, a story so powerful in itself, written and narrated in a way that did a complete justice.

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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.

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An epic told in common language

This being my first Chitra's book, I was skeptical to begin with as some of her books are women oriented. Whether it will be told in a feminine jingoistic voice. But, this book is a pleasant surprise.

Most Hindus would have acquired their Ramayan knowledge from 2 sources: listening to tales from their (grand) parents and watching movies/TV serials. Other than those who are truly religiously bent, few would have actually read a complete Ramayan book. One reason is that there are very few books written in objective way - neither meant to glorify Ram nor to criticize him. It is never easy to write such books anyway. This books fills that gap.

Written in simple and relatable style, Chitra held my attention from end to end.

The thing that I probably felt missed is the entire Kishkindha kanda. As a result, Hanuman gets lot less coverage than he deserves. As Sita narrates the story in first person, it is understandable that, that part of the story where she is not present is given less book time.

Overall, I recommend this book strongly to those who are looking to understand Ramayan.

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excellent<br />

simplyamazing i had goosebumps
the story and performance both

lovely - cant wait to read the others

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enchanting, very <br />touching

the story from Sita's viewpoint was beautifully woven into Ramayan. especially the last few chapters.

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An Epic tale of Sitayana.

Growing up, i always found some fault with the great Ramayana. The story isn't right, i thought. This is not how it's supposed to be, is it? While everyone around me was blindly in awe of this epic tale of the most righteous and virtous king that ever lived, I always thought -Well what about Sita?
Why don't you talk about her struggles, scarifices and atrocities? No body cared, but in my heart I knew I was right. How can you be an exemplary ruler when half of the population of your Kingdom will be subjected to same standards as you treat your wife, which was unjust and unfair? I wondered to myself is this why patriarchy is so ingrained in our society because our gods and demigods didn't make the right moves in their time? Would our society be a little different if Rama had set an example for trusting his partner and respecting her virtue even if the whole world was against him?
Why is there victim blaming in our world - oh! wait a minute , wasn't Sita -the epitome of the best wife in the world, also victim shamed when she was kidnapped and harrased by other man? With no fault of her own, didn't she lose everything to prove her innocence, time and again and this message was relayed to the masses and glorified so much that today we as a society have adapted this as a way of life? She endured all the pain and disrespect because of the profound love in her heart for Rama, but, was she right? Did she regret everything in the end?
The author and her perspective of Ramayana, no rather- Sitayana, strung a chord in my heart.
This book emphasizes the struggles and sacrifices of not just Sita but all the female characters who were rather forgotten in the telling and retelling of this epic tale and it has won my admiration.
I will recommend this to all my fellow readers who like me want to listen to the unspoken and forgotten perspectives of the unsung and true heroes of our mythic world.

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epic tale from a feminine perspective

there are numerous variations for this story. but this version will always stay with me. loved knowing it from a feminine perspective

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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.