My interest in books goes back to when I was nine and was gifted one by a friends mom for my birthday. It was an Enid Blayton, the St. Clairs series. I remember crying when it got over, because it felt as though I had lost friends and ended a life instead of just finishing a series of books. My world (my book world) came crashing down around me and it was sad, but I realised that the only way for me to move on, I would need another book and world to grasp on to. I haven’t stopped reading since then.
Even though I’ve been reading for years now, The Twentieth Wife was the first historical fiction i had ever picked up, and boy did I enjoy it. The story is set in pre-british India, when the Mughal kings wielded all the power. This story revolves around a woman, Mehrunissa, who’s father (a Persian run away) nearly gave her away at birth, but then by a stroke of luck, got the means necessary to keep her and how she grows up to be a beautiful woman that enchants and finds her way into the palace skilfully, eyeing the Prince of the empire since childhood. How she went from nothing to being one of the most powerful women India had never seen, but knew of. It tells of her wit, bravery and the politics that come with power and gives an insight into what life in the palace was really about. The games, the trechary, the lavish life style, the jealousy…Indu Sundaresan blends the worlds of fact and fiction so beautifully, you question if there really is any of the either at all. All you see are facts, and the empowering story of a woman who rose above and ruled from behind a veil in a time where men were considered the supreme authority.Its a 350+ pages book, and It kind of drags in the middle, but I finished it in just a couple of days. As soon as i kept this one down, I moved onto the sequel. The ending was a bit disappointing, but otherwise, these books are a must read for anyone who wants an avid insight into early India in all its glory.