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Monday, April 12, 2010

Review - The Feast of Roses - Indu Sundaresan

The story combines the best of historical fiction - history in great big measures, what is ever bigger than the Mughal empire, romance in spades, infighting amongst
brothers, greed for power (all invasive all the time) and a love story which is very unusual considering the times and the people involved.

The story revolves around Mehrunnissa who becomes wife to Jahangir. Very different circumstances to what would be imagined under normal circumstances. She was a widow in the first instance when he took her as his wife, and she was his wife not just a mistress. Mehrunnissa became Nur Jahan and the absolute power behind the throne becaue Jahangir though an absolute ruler, an absolute despot I would say, deferred to her on most decisions of state, believing that what she did - she did in the best interests of the Empire. I would say something similar to Eleanor of Aquitaine.

The story also revolves around the four sons of Jahangir and the inevitable clash that occurs as to who should inherit the throne. A lot of treachery is involved in the book, fratricide as well and there is no holds barred as one son tries to outdo
the other in his father's eyes to gain the kingdom for himself.

The love story of Mehrunnissa and Jahangir is beautifully described in the book, and the succeeding story of Khurram and his queen who will become even more powerful than Mehrunnissa. The story is different because this is one story where women are not in the background picture but they are very much part of the actual running of the kingdom which, in the Mughal period of history was virtually unknown.

The book is unusual and a must read for anyone who loves Indian history. Its evocative, well written and moves fast so that one is not bored with too much of
warfare or death or destruction.

I bought this book in Bangalore on one of my visits there and this is one author I am going to look out for in the future.

1 comment:

Hannah Stoneham said...

I am always ready to read some Indian history and this looks to combine an excellent personal tale with a real window onto a culture and a time in history. Thank you indeed for your recommendation

Hannah