Sunday, June 17, 2007

Beneath the Marble Sky

Another book recommendation...
I finished Beneath the Marble Sky by John Shors last night and really enjoyed it. There's some graphic violence in places but overall it's a historical fiction set in India in the mid 1600's. Essentially, it's told as a love story that revolves around Jahanara, daughter of the emporer who had the Taj Mahal built for his deceased wife - the love of his life. The story features Jahanara's love for her father (Happy Father's Day to the dads out there!), love for her daughter and mostly love for Isa, the architect of the Taj Mahal.

On a side note, I read Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan earlier this year which is also a historical fiction about the ancestors of Shah Jahan and Jahanara. Also a good one.

Here is how Amazon describes the book:
From Publishers Weekly
Shors's spirited debut novel tells the story of the eldest daughter of the 17th-century emperor who built the Taj Mahal. From her self-imposed exile, Jahanara recalls growing up in the Red Fort; the devotion her parents, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, had for each other; and the events that took place during the construction of the fabulous monument to their love. Although Jahan is the emperor and has many wives, Mumtaz (he calls her Taj) is his soul mate, a constant companion and wise political consultant. She even travels with him into battle, where she eventually dies giving birth to their 14th child. Fortunately, she has the foresight to begin preparing her favorite daughter, Jahanara, by instructing the girl in the arts of influence and political strategy. Thus the young woman is able to pick up where her savvy mother left off. From then on it is Jahanara who advises the emperor, often instead of her dreamy brother, Dara, who is the rightful heir to the throne. It is she who helps with construction of the magnificent mausoleum for Mumtaz's remains and who falls in love with its architect, Isa, a man whom she can never marry. And it is she who leads a failed effort to defend the throne against a coup by her evil brother, Aurangzeb. With infectious enthusiasm and just enough careful attention to detail, Shors give a real sense of the times, bringing the world of imperial Hindustan and its royal inhabitants to vivid life.

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