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Review: The Twentieth Wife

The Twentieth Wife The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a treat for the senses this audio book is. Indu Sundaresan's beautiful prose and in-depth research were brought to life by Sneha Mathan. From the first words of the introduction, I knew I would love this book. With such a lengthy tale—one stretching over 35 years and two generations—it would have been easy to wander, especially with so much detail of the world of Moghul India. Historical fiction at its finest, Sundaresan weaves a tale with known historical events as her anchor, creating a world that seems entirely true. It begins naturally, with the simple crush of an 8-year-old. Mehrunissa, the daughter of a Persian noble who fled to India, begins life in such a state of poverty, her parents abandoned her by the side of the road. Through the twists and turns in Mehrunissa's life, she maintains her desire to be married to the crown prince Salim, even as she is married to another man, and Salim has a whole harem full of wives and concubines. I am not a reader of romance, but even I loved this story. Mehrunissa is not a pathetic, love-sick princess pining for the prince to come rescue her. She is a woman who knows her duty, and knows her worth, a likely unusual combination in those times in that place. From start to finish, I was completely captivated by the story and the flawless writing, and I will most certainly be reading Sundaresan's other books.

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