The Twentieth Wife: A Novel

By Indu Sundaresan

A fascinating ancient epic of grand ardour and experience, this debut novel tells the pleasing tale of 1 of India's such a lot debatable empresses -- a lady whose brilliance and backbone trumped myriad stumbling blocks, and whose love formed the process the Mughal Empire. Skillfully mixing the textures of historic fact with the wealthy and sensual imaginings of a undying fairy story, The 20th Wife sweeps readers up in Mehrunnisa's embattled love with Prince Salim, and within the bedazzling future of a girl -- a legend in her personal time -- who was once all yet misplaced to heritage beforehand.

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So,” he leaned ahead and touched her face, lightly this time, “it isn't as effortless as you think that. not anything in existence is. we are going to be married for the remainder of our lives, my expensive Mehrunnisa. give it some thought: for the remainder of your existence you can be not anything however the spouse of a standard soldier. Pray Allah i am getting a advertising quickly, otherwise you will not be in a position to carry your head up on your illustrious relatives. ” With that he rose from the ground, bent to maneuver Mehrunnisa to at least one facet, opened the door, and left the room, calling out as he did, “Qasim, get my chai prepared. ” Mehrunnisa sat nonetheless, taking a look down at her arms. She had no longer had the chance to inform Ali Quli why she had come to his room so early within the morning. round her she may pay attention the family stirring because the maids drew water from the courtyard good, because the sweepers swept the stone corridors of the verandah. She had no feeling to any extent further, no sorrow, no heartache, only a dullness. As she sat there the 1st soreness got here. like the others, it stormed down her back and abdominal, like a hand gripping her in a vise. Mehrunnisa closed her eyes because the pains flooded via her. Now she don't have to make up an excuse for now not attending Manija’s marriage ceremony. Now Maji wouldn't ask why she didn't come. She clutched her hand to her entrance, doubling over at the flooring, her face flat opposed to the cool stone. one other baby long gone, slightly inside of her, slightly alive, now long past. it might probably now not be so. It used to be unimaginable—this lifestyles with no baby, this lifestyles Ali Quli had sketched out for her because the barren spouse of a standard soldier. Her lips moved in a gentle prayer, while tears blurred the room and her breath caught in her chest. Please Allah, no longer back, permit me preserve this one. Please. yet then there has been the nice and cozy swamp of blood among her legs. • • • through THIS TIME, 1599, the Mughal empire stretched titanic around the map of Hindustan, embracing Qandahar and Kabul within the northwest, Kashmir within the north, Bengal to the east, and south to Berar. The khutba, the legitimate proclamation of sovereignty, was once learn ahead of the midday prayers each Friday within the melodious voices of the muezzins from mosques round the empire. All hail Akbar Padshah, lord so much strong. In important India, the Emperor had controlled to subdue even the Rajput kings, valiant warriors and a fierce, proud race. As each one nation was once conquered, its daughters, sisters, cousins, and nieces got in marriage to the imperial kin, cementing newly shaped alliances and making sure opposed to additional rebellions. One state nonetheless held out. Udaipur lay southwest in Rajput land—a rugged, harsh land of low-lying mountains, naked plains, and scrub. Water and rain have been a far off reminiscence; the sizzling Thar wasteland lay to the north. yet Udaipur, less than a brutal burning solar, stood at the banks of the Pichola lake. round it, replete with the waters of the lake, the land was once fertile, eco-friendly, and luxurious, surrounded by way of the naked hills of the geographical region. right here Rana Pratap Singh had governed with a stubbornness and vanity which may in simple terms come from being a Rajput—proud of being from an unconquerable humans, and indignant on the presumption of someone, even a very good Emperor, at considering his land as a part of a bigger empire.

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