Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Princess and the Architect

With a subject like a fictionalized account of the story behind the construction of the Taj Mahal, my hopes were high. Unfortunately, Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors didn’t quite live up to my expectations.  The story follows the journey of Princess Jahanara as she navigates the political world of Hindustan and falls in love with the architect of the monument.  Along the way, she deals with the death of her mother, the decline of her father, the arranged marriage with her cruel husband, and the rivalry of her brothers for the kingdom. My favorite aspect of the novel is the strength of the female characters.  Her mother, and the woman the Taj Mahal is dedicated to, is an irreplaceable partner and advisor to the Emperor and she passes this knowledge and training onto Jahanara.  Women are constantly underestimated in the community, which actually benefits Jahanara in several ways throughout the story including a crucial female spy and allies for an escape plan along with her own way of outsmarting those around her. Beneath a Marble Sky is definitely a pretty story with certain components I liked, but overall it was a book I could put down for periods of time without remorse.  It’s not a large time commitment since it’s not very long, so if it sounds like a topic you’re interested in, definitely give it a whirl and you will be caught up in the romance of it if nothing else.

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