The Twentieth Wife (By Indu Sundaresan)

Chitra Banerjee Divakurni -“A fascinating novel about a fascinating time”. I wholly agree. It is an amazing read that takes you to the Mughal era every time you pick it up.

The story revolves around Mehrunnisa- the sun among women, who becomes the twentieth wife of Prince Salim, King Akbar’s son.

It is a gripping love story of the Mughal era – about the journeys and different paths taken by the two lovers and how they are destined to meet again, after so many years, despite Mehrunnisa’s continuous efforts to capture Salim’s,attention. It contains plots,war descriptions and hints of a slowly developing culture that shaped our country’s cultures indirectly. It is said that seventeenth century travellers to emperor Jahangir’s court lavished attention on Mehrunnisa, as she was at the peak of her power then. There is so much said about her mesmerising beauty and this book will make you long to atleast catch a glimpse of the real Mehrunnisa. The author, other than historian accounts, has also relied on bazaar gossip , the narratives of travellers to India and her own imagination.

Although the world in general knows of Khurram’s devotion to mumtaz, there is no account of Jahangir’s love for Mehrunnisa, and this is the first time I have read about their fascinating love story that has hardly ever been glorified, probably even greater a love story than Khurram’s.

(Recommended for everyone)

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