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Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review : 'Karna's Wife-The Outcast's Wife' by Kavita Kane

The so called anti-heroes of the Ramayana and Mahabharata have always fascinated me. So, it was with relative pleasure that I chanced upon and picked up ‘Karna’s Wife, The Outcast Queen’.

The story began with, ‘That man, with his thick mane, brooding eyes and twinkling earrings, walked towards her, his golden armour glittering so fiercely under the blazing sun that it was blinding.’ What better way to tie one up to the book’s character. The fascination and love for the two lead personalities is obvious. 

The story begins with Karna arriving on the arena at Hastinapur and the seeds of enmity with Arjuna being sown. It is told from the eyes of Karna’s wife, Uruvi. Uruvi is a Kshatriya princess, the determined child of King Vahusha of Pukeya and Queen Shubra. She is also the goddaughter to Kunti. Uruvi lives a sheltered life, but has slightly tomboyish qualities when she is growing up with the Pandavas and Kauravas. 

She sees and falls in love with Karna, at first sight. Uruvi, who knows that Karna has already had to bear Draupadi’s rejection and insult at her swayamvar, is determined that she will marry only Karna. Karna, the foster son of charioteer, Adhiratha and Radha, was found on the banks of river Ganga. 

Thus begins the life of the sutaputra. His swayamvar with Uruvi happens and she comes to live with him. His brother, first wife, Vrushali and seven children and parents are all the major characters in his life. Uruvi is praised to the skies by the author, Kavita Kane. It was a little tough for the reader in me to separate Karna’s wife and the author. Did Kane want that? 

Karna’s life is explained in detail, his love and respect for his first wife and his affection for his parents and brother, too. The fact that he is a kind and generous man is a well-known factor, but his moodiness and aggressiveness are qualities which have never come up. Also, his qualities as a father, the entire Draupadi factor, his intense love for Duryodhana and Ashwatthama, and Bhishma’s so-called hate for him, are all explained in a new light.

Karna’s nature and also the various reasons given for certain actions and misdeeds in the book are very well-placed. Also, this was the first book I read, which did not seem to hurry. The fact that so much the time passed between two points is very well-expressed. The mistakes in this book are few. I counted only two. Full marks to the author and her editors.

A few points which, I felt were slightly out of place in the book were – a) the discussion on war with her father and Karna, b) the over justification of Karna’s qualities, which seemed like he was wallowing in self-pity c) a little too much of Uruvi’s good qualities. Overall, a good book with a lot of potential to do well.

Note on Cover :  Quite nice, though it could have done with Karna too.
Author: Kavita Kane
ISBN  978-81-291-2085-4
Cover Illustration: Devaki Neogi
Price: India -  Rs 295
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