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Review: Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

Kaikeyi is a beautifully written retelling of the Ramanayan from Kaikeyi’s point of view. We follow her through from childhood to adulthood. There is a feminist angle to the story. Her desire to be more than society expects her to be and also improve things for other women. It’s written in the first person so it is her voice she is telling us her story and it is one that had me from the opening chapter.

I’m not overly familiar with Hindu mythology but this was a story I couldn’t get enough of and sped through ravenously. I needed to know how KaiKeyi would react and what she would do next. Kaikeyi’s voice kept me engaged throughout. Her desire to make life more bearable for other women the desire to have agency herself and see that other women share in that agency is glorious to read about.The

One important aspect of the novel is the idea of the binding plane. Much of Kaikeyi’s understanding comes from her ability to manipulate the connections between her and her family and courtiers. From her early experiments to the experienced adept that she becomes.

Her story is the main focus, her journey from being a powerless child, to someone who is capable wields power and influence. Her relationship with the men in her life, her father, brothers, her husband and her sons. The relationships with the women in her life is likewise fascinating as she moves from scared and isolated to the most respected of the Radnyi.

The key relationship in this novel is between Kaikeyi and Rama, there was a lot of this story which was unfamiliar and the crux is what is motivating Rama and why. He is the only other character who can use the binding plane.

There is an inevitability to the narrative. Kaikeyi as the narrator tells the reader time and again that this is not a happy story, that she is often painted as a villain and this is simply her giving her side of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel though, I felt the ending peters out a little. That said, there is such a lot to think about with this novel, I really am intrigued and I now want to learn more about this mythology.

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Jane Hanmer

Born in deepest darkest Shropshire. Currently living in Durrey. A reader of books, a watcher of theatre and film, a player of board games. Intersectional Feminist Pronouns: She/her

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