(Reviewed by Ishita RC)
I love mythologies. Indian mythologies and historical facts are my absolute favorites. The number of ways in which you can tell a story is the most fascinating feature of mythologies.The Mahabharata is one of those stories where every retelling makes you wonder if the original by Vyaas was more favourable towards the prevailing concept of how the good always wins against the evils of the world. I have read as of yet three different re-tellings and each one has left me hanging with the question, “What was the actual story? Why didn’t Vyaas write more, elaborating on this?”
Karna’s Wife is a beautiful retelling of the character of Karna, portrayed as the unsung hero and the unwanted son, from the perspective of Uruvi, the princess of Pukeya and the beautiful bride of Karna who came into his life after Draupadi publicly rejected him.
There is a problem with the book, though. As per the original by Vyaas, the names of Karna’s two wives are Vrushali and Supriya. There has been no mention of Uruvi anywhere in the grand epic. There is no clarification regarding this misnomer by the author.
That said, the story is well written and will engage the reader from the very beginning, taking him/her through all the plots and twists and the trickery from the view-point of an outsider disinterested in politics. This very aspect of the writer’s style of narrative captivated my attention the most. The book beautifully showcases his evolution from a person who is angry with Draupadi for the insult during her Swayamvara (an ancient Indian practice of choosing your own husband) to a person who says “I know I will be killed tomorrow, but I am willing to meet my fate” and goes smiling to the battlefield and fights hard despite knowing that he is fighting against his brother for the wrong cause. This is all because of the stubborn streak of loyalty which only a true friendship can evoke.
It is a fact established in the pages of history that wars have been fought mainly over three things – land, money (both of which equals power) and women. And the Mahabharata is no different. Karna’s Wife is a poignant story entrenched amidst a background of political deception, telling a story of a husband and his wife and their evolution as an individual as well as a couple.