The Feast of Roses by Indu Sundaresan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Feast of Roses was, unfortunately, not as good as The Twentieth Wife. Mehrunnisa is older now, and the emperor is madly in love with her. She is strong-willed and through the emperor manages to become his equal in ruling. But you never really understand why she wants that power, or what she does with it. Is she a just and fair ruler? Does she help the people of her country? Does she help empower other women? You never learn.
Then there's a whole section of Thomas Roe coming to India as a diplomatic representative of the East India Tea Company. **Spoiler Alert!** He never gets his trade agreement. Because my memory of...what was it...8th grade history...is pretty dim, I thought it was going to be Roe that got the agreement for the British that allowed them to eventually come in, and take over the country. But no, he just gets sick and goes home. Why did I need to read about that?
And finally, it was hard to sympathize with Mehrunnisa, or any of the other characters for that matter, while reading about how wealthy they are. It is really hard for me to sympathize with the rich when they are bemoaning their fate. Sure, if Khurram had just married Ladli, then Mehrunnisa would never have hated him and tried to make one of his brothers emperor. But, while Ladli did seem to be in love with Khurram, the real reason that Mehrunnisa wanted the match was so that she, Mehrunnisa, would not be inconsequential when Jahangir died. Really? She could have made any man that Ladli married rich enough that it wouldn't be a concern.
The language and the descriptions in the book were wonderful, and the book was well written, but I think I would have related a little more to Mehrunnisa if I understood why she wanted all of that power.
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