The Mistress Of The Throne, the debut novel of Dr. Ruchir Gupta, gives us a sneak peek into the royal household of Emperor Shah Jahan through the eyes of his favourite daughter, Jahanara. Her name is lost in the pages of history. Not much is written about her in the books. I remember reading a short play in Bangla in school which had a character by the name Jahanara.
Through Ruchir’s work, the princess comes alive again. The book chronicles the journey of Jahanara from her role as Begum Sahiba till the sad turn of events that lead to the passing away of Shah Jahan. The narrative of the book is very compelling and strikes a chord easily. The characters and events are extremely well researched. It sheds light on the relationship Shah Jahan shared with his favourite daughter.
Narrated in first person in the voice of Jahanara, the novel dwells on the ups and down during the reign of Shah Jahan, it gives us an account of Mumtaz Mahal’s death and the incidents that followed her death, the tension that brewed between the sons of Shah Jahan and much more. We also get insights into Jahanara’s own life – her emotions, her relationship with her mother, father and siblings, her yearning for love, her vulnerabilities and weaknesses. The book is great blend of fiction and history, entwined beautifully and seamlessly.
One cannot help but feel a surge of sympathy for Jahanara – she is sensible, strong and inspiring. She is emotional but respects her responsibilities too. One can feel her dilemma when she has to decide between her love and duty; it does take a lot of character to be able to sacrifice one’s own happiness for the greater good of family and the kingdom.
Mistress of the Throne by Ruchir Gupta is one book that I will highly recommend to all book lovers specially those who like historical fiction.
About the book:
1631. The Empress of India Mumtaz Mahal has died. Yet, rather than anoint one of his several other wives to take her place as Empress of India, Mughal King Shah Jahan anoints his seventeen-year-old daughter Jahanara as the next Queen of India.
Bearing an almost identical resemblance to her mother, Jahanara is the first ever daughter of a sitting Mughal King to be anointed queen. She is reluctant to accept this title, but does so in hopes of averting the storm approaching her family and Mughal India. Her younger siblings harbor extreme personalities from a liberal multiculturalist (who views religion as an agent of evil) to an orthodox Muslim (who views razing non-Muslim buildings as divine will).
Meanwhile, Jahanara struggles to come to terms with her own dark reality: as the daughter of a sitting King, she is forbidden to marry. Thus, while she lives in the shadow of her parents unflinching love story, she is devastated by the harsh reality that she is forbidden to share such a romance with another.
Mistress of the Throne narrates the powerful story of one of India’s most opulent and turbulent times through the eyes of an unsuspecting character: a Muslim queen. It uses actual historical figures to illuminate the complexity of an era that has often been called India’s Golden Age.
About the author:
Ruchir Gupta is a graduate of Upstate Medical University and currently practicing medicine in Long Island, NY, where he lives with his wife and daughter. He has authored several books on anesthesiology. His interests include reading, blogging, traveling, and learning history.
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
I am thankful to the author for sending me a review copy of the book.
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