An enchanting seventeenth-century epic of grand passion and adventure, this debut novel tells the captivating story of one of India's most legendary and controversial empresses -- a woman whose brilliance and determination trumped myriad obstacles, and whose love shaped the course of the Mughal empire. She came into the world in the year 1577, to the howling accompaniment of a ferocious winter storm. As the daughter of starving refugees fleeing violent persecution in Persia, her fateful birth in a roadside tent sparked a miraculous reversal of family fortune, culminating in her father's introduction to the court of Emperor Akbar. She is called Mehrunnisa, the Sun of Women. This is her story.
Pages: 384 (hardcover)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Source: Checked out from library
Date Completed: April 10, 2013
I began reading The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan for the May meeting of the Boston book club. Given my track record of taking a long time to finish books, I decided to start early. I was immediately swept up into the story. My favorite thing about the novel is the blend of history with personal narrative. I learned a lot about the Mughal empire, but also wanted to know more about the love story. I loved Mehrunnisa's spirit: her bold sense of adventure and determination to find a way for herself that allowed her to be independent and use her intelligence.
The story finished with the wedding of Mehrunnisa and the Emperor. I wanted to hear more about her time in the royal palace, after she became an Empress. The author's footnote provided some insight, but I wish that more of the novel had been about that part of history. After I finished reading, I realized that this is the first book in a trilogy. I will have to check out the other two novels to get the scoop!
In addition to book club, I am counting this book for the following challenges:
2013 Global Reading Challenge: Most of the book takes place in India which is in Asia.
2013 South Asian Reading Challenge: The book is written by an Indian author and takes place in India.