The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan is a beautiful historical fiction and the story takes us to the 17th century Mughal India. I love books based on Indian history and my fascination is mainly because my Dad is a history teacher. So, when I saw this book in a bookstore sometime last year, I immediately picked it up. However, it was only now that I got to read it, and Man! What a treat it was! Unputdownable!
Read on to know how much I loved reading this book.
The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan- Book Review
Indu Sundaresan’s The Twentieth Wife is the story of Mehrunnisa – one of the most important women in the Mughal Empire mostly because of her undying love for Prince Salim, Emperor Akbar’s son.
Mehrunnisa is the daughter of Persian refugees and her childhood is spent in Akbar’s palace, amongst noblewomen as a requested lady-in-waiting for Queen Ruqayya. It was imperative that she meets Prince Salim and she is smitten with him from the early age of eight. She dreams of becoming his wife and is enthralled by the power and responsibilities she’d have in the harem.
Prince Salim develops feelings for her at the very first sight but she gets married to a soldier under the Emperor and the Queen’s command. But fate intervenes and as the crowned Prince Salim takes up the throne as Emperor Jahangir, she goes on to become his Queen- his twentieth wife, Emperess Nur Jahan.
“I wonder what it would be like to marry a prince,” Mehrunnisa said, her eyes glazing over dreamily, “and to be a princess…”
Oh, this book is one of the best historical fictions I’ve read!
I picked up the book, reading only the forst two pages to see if it’d interest me. But then, it was after twenty pages that I realized that I was captivated.
I agree that the book is mostly based on historical facts, but the author’s writing is enchanting and the book is unputdownable!
The epic romance between Emperor Jahangir and Nur Jahan is an integral part of the story but this book is so much more than that. It describes the world of women in the royal harem – the many wives of the kings, his concubines and slaves always at the king’s beck and call.
My heart warmed knowing the family dynamics of Mehrunnisa and through them we also get to know how girls were treated back in the days- how it was ill-fate to have a girl child born in the family, how a girl shouldn’t be allowed to learn so much as she would get to know more about the world and form opinions and how ultimately, she wouldn’t make the “ideal” wife who is more like a slave to the husband.
“Ghias, we must be careful not to teach the girls too much. How will they ever find husbands if they are too learned? The less they know, the less they will want of the outside world.”
It was fascinating to know the details of succession of the throne, the schemes, politics and war due to the greed for power.
That said, the love between Nur Jahan and Jahangir steals the show and I’m so glad I picked up this book for the #ReadingWithMuffy challenge.
Nur Jahan always fascinated me – the beautiful veiled queen whose painting adorn my wall – the one behind an intricately carved castle window – the one whose undying love, brilliance and determination got what she wanted, changing the course of history.
All in all, go for it if you like:
- historical fiction
- epic romance
- brilliant writing
4 Paws on 5
Here’s the linky for August #ReadingWithMuffy. The prompt for September is to read “Thriller” books and I can’t wait to read so many many from my TBR.
Let the reviews pour in. I can’t wait to see your picks.
I hope you are staying home, staying safe. Let’s pray for this life-threatening disease to be eradicated from the world soon.
Lots of love and good vibes.