I m still in rapture over this novel, it just was written with such perfection The perfect read for any historical fiction fan A concise and sweeping story, eloquently told A tale of adventure, passion, and a journey into an intelligent and daring 17th Century daughter of the emperor Jaha s struggle is a precarious one, caught between forbidden love, sibling rivalries and duty A powerful thrilling edge of the seat page turner It taught me new things about the intricacies of architecture in 17th century Hindustan Eye opening moments as clever tid bits about Hindu, Muslim and Islamic beliefs were added that were very interesting and beautiful to ponder As well as having a passionate and emotional romance set during the backdrop of a murderous religious war Everything I look for in great Fiction in only 345 pages How is this possible Journey To Dazzling Seventeenth Century Hindustan, Where The Reigning Emperor, Consumed With Grief Over The Tragic Death Of His Beloved Wife, Commissioned The Building Of A Grand Mausoleum As A Testament To The Marvel Of Their Love This Monument Would Soon Become Known As The Taj Mahal A Sight Famous Around The World For Its Beauty And The Emotions It SymbolizesPrincess Jahanara, The Courageous Daughter Of The Emperor And His Wife, Recounts Their Mesmerizing Tale, While Sharing Her Own Parallel Story Of Forbidden Love With The Celebrated Architect Of The Taj Mahal Set During A Time Of Unimaginable Wealth And Power, Murderous Sibling Rivalries, And Cruel Despotism, This Impressive Novel Sweeps You Away To A Historical Hindustan Brimming With Action And Intrigue In An Era When, Alongside The Brutalities Of War And Oppression, Architecture And The Art Of Love And Passion Reached A Pinnacle Of Perfection Beneath a Marble Sky is much too much about a royal daughter s dutiful life of self sacrifice she practically gets ecstatic when she discovers a sacrifice situation actually than I could accept The combination of silly pointless self sacrifices and the way her breathless love in the shadows unfolded struck me as impossibly bizarre She did so very little to protect herself at important junctures, in the name of love It also appeared to me she often relied heavily on the kindness or wisdom of men family and strangers even after she wised up But her desire to suffer seemed to depend a lot on her ecstatic expectation of salvation in the next world, if nothing else She did her best to be abnormally nice at all times By the time I was halfway into the book, I hated this self immolating woman It was a GR club pick, so, well, here we are Many actual historical details are mixed into Beneath a Marble Sky , although it uses as its primary foundation a fictional depiction of an illicit romance between the married royal girl and an unmarried foreign commoner, which so satisfied many other readers I am giving it a couple of stars only because of the history and political details myself.
As I read this novel, I thought narrator Princess Jahanara was somewhat unwilling to exercise much logical capacity, although in time she began to be strategic, even if she still always chose the path of self sacrifice if it was available to her She seemed mostly pedestrianly kitsch in thought, and appeared to me to suffer a lot from purposeful blinkered vision because of her persistence of belief in being a good girl She often prevented her young psychopathic warrior brother, Aurangzeb, from hurting her pathetically silly older brother and the heir apparent to the throne, Dara She saw Aurangzeb s joy in killing even when he was a little boy But she is determined to make nice and worked at maintaining surface conventionality, even if it killed her Everything she does is about maintaining internal family coherence, whatever the personal cost and against all common sense in my opinion The delusion that all the members of her famous royal family felt nothing but supportive affection with each other, or that they would all be nice enough given time, to eventually all meet in heaven I suppose, was important to her Even as she covered up or minimized Aurangzeb s malevolent behavior every day since their childhood Now you know why I mostly disliked this novel irrational main character Moving on.
As the story of her life as a royal Princess in 17th century India unfolds, readers also enjoy a well researched, if brief, look at the politics and the enormous accumulated wealth of the ruling family that built the Taj Mahal Yes, gentle reader, THAT Taj Mahal For Princess Jahanara is the daughter of Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal as a giant tomb for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, after she died in childbirth not mentioned in the novel, but in fact it was Mumtaz Mahal s fourteenth pregnancy Princess Jahanara is reluctant to step outside most of the lines of propriety and cultural expectations, no matter what, because of her love for her father and secondarily, her Muslim faith, except of course for the passionate love affair she begins with a young handsome architect a Persian, Ustad Isa He was hired to help design and build the Taj Mahal Jahanara hates her husband, the merchant Khondamir, an ugly fat vile old yellow toothed infertile mouthbreather Shah Jahan, Jahanara s beloved father, arranged the child marriage of his fifteen year old daughter to the middle aged merchant in affectionate hope Jahanara would grow to love him However, now that the Shah sees she can t love Khondamir, he kindly arranges for the unmarried Persian architect Isa to consort with his daughter in secret Hmmmmmmm Gentle reader, I know it may surprise you, but this isn t the moment I decided that this novel was asinine There was an incident a few chapters before this that was insane However, in case you are in the apparent majority that adores this novel or wants to adore this novel, I will exercise some discretion and place it in a spoiler box view spoiler Earlier in the book, she decides on yet another stupid idea to sacrifice herself intentionally by arranging to get herself beaten to bloody ribbons by the husband she was forced to marry by her adoring and adorable progressive father It is a useless, senseless plan she puts into action to distract her psychopathic brother Aurangzeb s vengeful bloodlust away from herself She fears Aurangzeb will try to kill her again, for the umpteenth time after she humiliates him during a sanctified public execution of a merchant and his twelve year old son by elephant Unable to watch Aurangzeb kill the child, she rashly begs her father to stop the execution and she spits on her brother, humiliating him in public Soooooo, even though her father the Shah actually ordered the child s execution in the first place, then ordered it to stop for her sake, and her kind brother Dara offered to help her with Aurangzeb s vengeance from being thwarted at murdering the boy convict by elephant, she concocts instead a scheme where she gets accused of stealing her husband s ring, the customary penalty being a severe whipping She asks her best friend, a Hindu slave, to make sure Aurangzeb hears about the ring theft and of her husband subsequently punishing her, and thus her brother will hopefully be satisfied enough to not want her dead any Of course, after the Princess is painfully and bloodily whipped, not only does the child she saved end up in the custody of Aurangzeb, he is killed slowly by an infected and painful castration instead of being gored by the elephant Plus, Aurangzeb still wants to kill her.
Next, Aurangzeb arranges secretly for outlaws to kill Dara during a ride north to negotiate a truce with Persians Jahanara foils him, after she learns of Aurangzeb s latest plan to murder his family one by one, by poisoning Dara herself with rancid meat the night before so that he is too sick to go with Aurangzeb to the meeting with the Persians.
In my opinion, she should have allowed Aurangzeb to die when she had a chance a few chapters later, given what she, and us, gentle reader, have learned about Aurangzeb s evil personality, jealousy, religious racism, psychopathic sadism and his many attempts to kill his brother and sister But noooooooo When she is walking by his room in the Red Fort, she notices Aurangzeb and his wife are cowering and whining in fear of a deadly cobra about to bite them Well, gentle reader, obviously she should allow nature to take its course But what she does is grab his sword and kill the snake After all, she MUST be the good girl no matter what Aaaaaannnd, incredibly, she STILL hopes to reform him What does Aurangzeb say to her, after first accusing her of having planted the snake she did not but thinking she lost her nerve to kill him, which she denies in honest horror and righteous indignation, quote, When the time is right, sister, you ll join me, help me grab the throne Or I ll kill you, and enslave your child After all of this, she does and says nothing about the attempted murders or threats to anyone She quietly withdraws to her rooms for a well earned sleep having preserved her purity of soul Oh well Another chance will certainly come to save her psychopathic brother from himself if he tries to kill her again The next day, she picks up where she left off snuggling and playing house secretly with her boytoy architect Isa and her new baby, while they both continue working on the Taj Mahal in a series of pleasant montages Occasionally she stops kissing Isa and avoiding Khondimer to discuss her brother s battle successes and other politics with her father but never mentioning Aurangzeb s plans to murder all of the family when he comes back Aurangzeb rides off to war against the Persians, and since Jahanara unaccountably keeps her mouth shut, he continues to consolidate his power without any opposition and eventually forms a loyal force of 80,000 Muslim soldiers under his personal command Then, when he gets word Shah Jahan is seriously ill, he kills his two other brothers who happened to be fighting with him with their men, who he also slaughters to the last man, and, hurriedly abandoning the Persian wars, rides back with his loyal troops to the Red Fort to finally dispose his father, and kill Dara and Jahanara Wow Really Really hide spoiler I was kind of disappointed that most of it is fiction or at least the most important parts that form the basis of the story You are thought to believe that this is based on a true story, but it is highly embellished, and culturally inaccurate in many cases It kind of ruined the mystery of the Mughal Empire, the Taj Mahal, etc for me It is an easy read though, and somewhat entertaining, so if you like these sorts of love stories but on the side of a melodramatic soap opera then you ll probably enjoy it.
This is one of the most amazing books I ve ever read I am fascinated by books about other cultures This historical fiction pick is set in India at the time the Taj Mahal was being built.
It delves into history, there s a love story, family struggles, drama, intrigue This book has it all I originally selected it because I ran a feature story on my newscast about the author, who will either call in to your book club, or, if your book club is big enough, he will make an appearance at your book club meeting After selecting the book, I discovered the author had ties to Iowa I have a special place in my soul for Midwestern authors.
This book swallowed me whole The author wove such a beautiful story about the loves of the main character Her love for her family and the duty she felt to honor them, her love for her country, and the love of her life who wasn t the man to whom she was married.
It was emotionally wrenching at times, but a truly wonderful read.
Izvanredna 5 It is an average book I thought the characters were way too one dimensional It felt fantasy than historical, at least to me.
This is a love story based in 17th century Hindustan but not just your average love story Finally, a love story author that portrays a woman in a positive light Not just hopelessly in love but also intelligent, loyal to her family and her father s empire , truly selfless and very realistic with all of her emotional ups and downs This drama has the main character battling brothers and a disastrous arranged marriage, all the while fulfilling the needs of her father and trying to maintain a relationship with the man she truly loves I could not put this book down It had action, drama, romance without being too mushy , everything i do not recommend this book, as it could give the reader an inaccurate picture of what life was like back then in addition the author has taken a number of liberties with the historical characters the writing is very simplistic and leaves you feeling like you are reading a teenage romance novel.