Ruined by Reading

Beneath a Marble Sky

Posted in Book Reviews, Historical Fiction by M on November 17, 2008

(From the back cover) Journey to dazzling seventeenth-century Hindustan, where the reigning emperor, consumed with grief over the tragic death of his beloved wife, commissioned the building of a grand mausoleum as a testament to the marvel of their love. This monument would soon become known as the Taj Mahal – a sight famous around the world for its beauty and the emotion it symbolizes.

Princess Jahanara, the courageous daughter of the emperor and his wife, tells their mesmerizing tale, while sharing her own parallel story of forbidden love with the celebrated architect of the Taj Mahal. Set during a time of unimaginable wealth and power, murderous sibling rivalries, and cruel despotism, this impressive novel sweeps you away to a historical Hindustan brimming with action and intrigue in an era when alongside the brutalities of war and oppression, architecture and the art of love and passion reached a pinnacle of perfection.

This has been on my TBR list for a long time and I’m glad I was finally able to get to it. I’ve been wanting to read it ever since I read Indu Sundaresan’s books. If you enjoyed The Twentieth Wife or The Feast of Roses, you’ll love Beneath a Marble Sky.

The love story in this book was a little unexpected for me. I had wanted to read the book because of it’s topic and time period. I hadn’t really read the detailed summary of it, so I didn’t know that Jahanara was going to fall in love with Isa, the architect. But it was a great story and I really enjoyed it. It was unbearably romantic at times. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

“No,” he whispered, then sighed. “I can’t share my love with you as I’m supposed to, the way a man shares such love with his wife. And so I build. I build to honor you because this is the only way that I can love you, by sharing my love with the world. The first stone I laid had your name chiseled into its underside and the last – please grant me this wish, Allah – shall carry both our names.” (p 120-121)

There was plenty of sorrow, death, horror and action packed into the book, but in the end everything turned out okay for the most favorite characters. What I find interesting is that the reality of Mughal court life was much more scheming and full of more backstabbing and plotting than most fictional books can come up with, this book included.  Keep in mind that the only things really factual about this book is that these people existed.  That’s about it.  In reality, Jahanara, as a Mughal princess, was not allowed to get married.  So her terribly abusive, fictional husband never existed.  If you’re into romance or historical fiction, you should give it a try. It’s definitely a page turner and a fast read, despite its average (344 pages) length.

Rating: 4.5/5


4 Responses

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  1. veens said, on November 18, 2008 at 3:19 am

    I actually tried getting this book, after I saw you were reading it :) But alas, it will be some time before I can get it!

  2. veens said, on November 18, 2008 at 3:20 am

    Sorry, I forgo, Awesome review, and I really like that para that you have quoted!

  3. Ruined by Reading said, on November 24, 2008 at 2:05 am

    […] Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors […]

  4. S. Krishna said, on November 24, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Nice review! I enjoyed Sundaresan’s books, so I might have to check this one out. I found your blog through Sunday Salon, I’m adding you to my Google Reader!

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