The Twentieth Wife

The Twentieth Wife

A Novel

Book - 2002
Average Rating:
8
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An enchanting historical epic of grand passion and adventure, this debut novel tells the captivating story of one of India's most controversial empresses -- a woman whose brilliance and determination trumped myriad obstacles, and whose love shaped the course of the Mughal Empire. Skillfully blending the textures of historical reality with the rich and sensual imaginings of a timeless fairy tale, The Twentieth Wife sweeps readers up in Mehrunnisa's embattled love with Prince Salim, and in the bedazzling destiny of a woman -- a legend in her own time -- who was all but lost to history until now.
Publisher: New York : Washington Square Press, 2002
ISBN: 9780743428187
Branch Call Number: SUNDA
Characteristics: 397 p

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a
Ayesha2015
May 14, 2017

Very good book, It has really intrigued me to learn more about the Mughal history and understand it more from a woman's(Mehrunnisa) perspective. I was really looking forward to read this book after watching a show called 'Siyaasat' on netflix, and I absolutely enjoyed reading this. Now waiting for the next two the series...Feast of Roses and then Shadow Princess!

t
tenj
Apr 29, 2016

Lovely:
Historical context
Setting
Imagery
Names
A part of history I haven't explored yet and am now interested in.

Not so great:
Repetitive description
Too much plot, not enough character development
Even though the story centers around a woman's experience, most of the history written from that period was from a male perspective -- a good part, in fact, from English sources. That seemed to dominate the story a little more than I'd hoped and made it slightly less believable. The most developed character, IMO, is Ghias Beg, Mehrunnisa's father.

Overall: Enjoyable for me due to subject matter and the fact that I'm a sucker for historical fiction, but not as rich and thorough as I was hoping. I'm still going to read the next in the series because now I'm invested.

e
Eosos
Jun 05, 2014

There was always a better than even chance that I wouldn’t like this book but an intriguing character and country lured me in.

This is the first installment in the story of Mehrunnisa, daughter of Persian exiles and wife to Emperor Jahangir. The story starts right at the moment of her birth and continues through her childhood, where she falls in love with her future husband, through the difficulties of her twenties, where conspiracies, dishonor and miscarriages threaten her happiness, to the age of 34 and her long wished for marriage to the emperor.

I think the most disliked part of the book for me was the two main characters. I found Prince Salim (future Emperor Jahangir) a spoiled child even though he is never an actual child in the book. Self centered, impressionable and ignorant, he causes a rift with his father and then all of a sudden when he becomes Emperor he’s decisive and brutal, it’s like he has a complete personality change. Mehrunnisa isn’t much better. I found the era and culture fascinating and the author did a great job describing the atmosphere, women and politics that were a part of harem life.

n
Neenujose
Jan 06, 2014

I am a student of Indian history and is particularly fascinated by Mughal times. This work of fiction by sundaresan swept off my feet and makes me want to read the sequel as well. The way she has weaved fact and fiction is stupendous and she deserves praise for keeping readers in a spell.

s
SuzeParker
Oct 06, 2012

It's clear that significant research went into writing The Twentieth Wife. With that research as a backdrop, Sundaresan crafted a story of love and politics during the time of India's Mughal empire. Coupled with the use of unfamiliar terminology (I discovered only after finishing the book that there's a glossary in the back. Knowing this at the beginning would have been immensely helpful.), Sundarsen's uneven writing distracted from an otherwise interesting story of love, power and politics. Probably the best part of reading The Twentieth Wife was the introduction it provided to a history I knew nothing about.

m
Monica Loke
Jun 06, 2011

Love the culture and everything Indian. Beautiful story of Mehrunisa - the beloved empress of the Mughal Empire. The best historical novel I have ever read.

b
brajani
May 16, 2011

A great book detailing the life of Mehrunisa , before she got married to the emperor Jehangir.
It takes you back to that era, with great details about their lifestyles and practices.

e
Eil_1
Apr 11, 2011

Fascinating book - a long wait for her husband with intrigue galore!

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