I love to read this genre of historical fiction (which some may call mythology – which I don’t agree with; long story for another day), but it’s been a long time since I actually read any book in this genre, and so when Prem Purana by Usha Narayanan was offered for review, I just had to take it up.
Especially because I had already read the author’s work in the past, and knew that with her books I could always count on good writing, vivid descriptions that stayed true to the period the story was set in, and a great narrative voice. So it wasn’t that much of a gamble for me, plus I get to read a genre I love after a long break; win-win!
Prem Purana by Usha Narayanan – Book Review
Coming to my thoughts on this book – Prem Purana by Usha Narayanan is a collection of 3 short stories, the first story revolves around a much loved God – Ganesha (and his brides), the second one is the story of the widely feared demon king – Ravana (and Mandodari), and the third tale is of a well known mortal king – Nala (and Damayanti).
All 3 of these stories made for interesting reads, as they were informative while being entertaining. Now of-course, since I read a lot in the genre, I was already aware of many of these stories, so there was some amount of repetition (for me), but for someone relatively new to the genre, this will be an absolute treasure.
Related: If you enjoy this genre, check out my review of Pradyumna by Usha Narayanan
Having said that, there were many things I found out after reading this book. For one, I had no idea that Ganesha had 3 wives and not 2. For some reason I always assumed that Riddhi, Siddhi were Ganesha’s 2 wives, and was completely clueless about Buddhi.
Though let me tell you, this small surprise was completely inconsequential compared to the shocker that waited for me in Ravana & Mandodari’s story. I used to think that I knew Ramayana and Mahabharata backwards & forwards, but there was one big reveal in Story #2, which totally blew my mind! I don’t know how I missed something that big, I just have no words, cause I’m still in shock.
All in All, this was a wonderful read, which stayed true to its promise, and delivered not one, but three wonderful, yet dramatically different love stories, right from the charming tale of Ganesha wooing his three brides, to the story of passionate, desperate love of Nala & Damayanti, and finally my favorite of the lot – Ravana & Mandodari’s love story, which had several shades of darkness, but was still capable of evoking strong feelings.
And for this I have to applaud the author’s expertise, because even though Ravana had absolutely no redeeming quality, and made terrible choices all the time, the way the author has narrated the story, the reader could simply not help rooting for the couple & their love till the very last moment (and this is inspite of knowing how it was going to end!).
Final verdict: Highly recommend to everyone who loves this genre (or not). Read this book.
That’s all from my end for now. I would love to hear from you. Have you read this book? Anything else in the genre? Which are some of your favorite books? In this genre, one of my all time favorites has to be The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
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I received a review copy of this book via TBC Blog Tours, however the opinions, as always, are completely mine.