Author: Indu Sundaresan
This book is a sequel to ‘Twentieth Wife’ which I had reviewed before. I had to pick it up because I just love her style of writing and was more than curious to know what was in store next for the heart of these two novels, Mehrunnisa [better known as Empress Nur Jahan to the world]. The one, who was left by the roadside by where father as they could not afford to look after another child but is returned back to them and becomes the apple of her father’s eye, could not have a future which is any less significant. She sees her dream come true and her love answered when she marries Emperor Jahangir and thus becomes Empress Nur Jahan [the light of the world].
The sequel ‘Feast of Roses’ illustrates her journey of love and power behind the veil. She battles out many of them in the court, including Jahangir’s another wife, his close friends who are his ministers, his sons and her own brother and niece to move from power to power and strength to strength to become an Empress who joins her husband in the court dealings and even fills up for him in his absence …. thus becoming a powerful woman in a man’s world. She becomes the most influential wife and trusted Empress in Jahangir’s reign.
Though Jahangir showers on her all that she asks for and all that he thinks she likes, power and fame does not come easy to her. She demonstrates great strength of character to hold on to them, while being a loving wife and Mother. Through all the difficulties that she faces, what remains constant is Emperor Jahangir’s love for her – his twentieth wife and the only one he married, not for any kind of gains but purely out of love.
A common woman, not of royal blood … who succeeds making a place for herself in the Emperor’s heart and carving a niche for herself in the pages of history leaves an everlasting impression on all the readers. She is brave, intelligent, independent and cunning too, when the situation demands and has all that it takes for a woman to emerge triumphant in times when it was believed that women had no voice behind the veil. I could so feel proud of being a woman as I read through all that she fought and emerged a winner in the 17th century, where such things were totally unheard of about women.
Even when she is sent into exile by her rivals and is confined to her room and is leading a life minus her strength and power, she emerges a winner by realizing that real happiness lies within and peace comes from lack of wants and dies happy.
She definitely deserves to be more famous than Mumtaz Mahal, her own niece, who is made famous by the Taj Mahal, the design of which was again based on a tomb planned and constructed by Mehrunnisa in honour of her father.
I am definitely going to read more of Indu Sundaresan’s work. Weaving such a beautiful tale around historic happenings is probably not everybody’s cup of tea. Awesome writer indeed!