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 emotions 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.
Although a fictionalized story about the building of the great and majestic Taj Mahal in Hindustan, a huge percentage is steeped in truth. John Shors did a large amount of research and although a few liberties were taken for reading pleasure, this is the most beautiful and superbly penned saga that I believe all high school history classes should have BENEATH A MARBLE SKY as part of their mandatory curriculum.
Told in flashbacks to her grand-daughters, Princess Jahanara, the daughter of the emperor and his beloved wife whom he built the structure for, we step back in time to a period rich in culture, tradition, and unbelievable killing and wars. The clarity and vividness of the writing plunges you onto the dust laden streets. I felt like I’d been picked from my chair and plunked down into the 17th century clad in period costume living every moment of the story as if I were a part of the skin of Jahanara. I could hear the sounds, see the sites, and taste the residue of sand and dirt in my mouth and nose.
Can you imagine someone loving you so deeply to build such an incredible piece of architecture to honour you for the person you were, the life you lived, and to house the remains of your body in death for eternity? Unbelievable!
This is such an accomplished piece of writing and John Shors’ architecture of the story, and his writing, equals or greater, to the exquisite beauty of the Taj Mahal itself. I highly recommend this book and it will be placed in an honoured spot on my keep permanently shelf!