Jahanara. Honestly, I couldn’t remember much from history about this Mughal princess though I recollected that she was Shah Jahan’s daughter. This book is her narration of her life as a Mughal princess during one of the most “opulent and turbulent” period of Indian history.
The book tells the story of Jahanara from the time when she is the Begum Sahiba (Supreme Princess) and culminates with the passing away of Shah Jahan. The narrative of the book is very contemporary and compelling and the characters and events are extremely well researched. Agreed, this is a very well-documented period of history but to bind it all so well into a cohesive, flowing, descriptive narrative, is definitely a difficult task. I also loved the Sun and Moon analogy to explain the love between Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan and the reason why Delhi’s Chandni Chowk is thus named. You will understand what I’m talking about when you read the book.
The character of Jahanara is very well sketched out and she comes across as an emotional, yet level headed and positive person. Her close bond with her mother, her emotional angst when her mother dies, her relationship with her siblings and her struggles and sacrifices for the “larger good” while carrying out the responsibilities of the Queen of India make her endearing to us.
Ruchir Gupta, the author has also given a bit of “fictional” background that gives a possible explanation for Aurangzeb’s fanaticism and Dara’s mysticism. He has written it so well, that the reader feels convinced that this is what must have actually happened. And perhaps, some of it did happen the way he has imagined it!
I truly loved reading this book. Yes, there were times when I found it lagging a bit or even a couple of discrepancies, but overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. If you like historical fiction or are fascinated by the Mughal era, you can’t afford to miss this book. If you liked The Palace Of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (a book I love but haven’t yet reviewed) then you must read Mistress Of The Throne.