While reading this book I kept thinking “This author have an ulterior motive!”
Because really, why would an Indian author right a book about one of the best architectural buildings not only in India but the world, and about a ruling family that ruled a vast empire through generations in India, and then just write everything that is bad about it.
I mean so they were exceedingly rich and corrupted and drank like a crazy (all day long) and cared only for their pleasures. So I ask when did they have the time to rule the empire, try to keep the peace, go on campaigns and keep all those people with different languages and religions under control, if all the emperor did was spend his days unsuccessfully trying to get a widow into his bed??
It’s a historical fact (which this book was very lacking in) that they were rich and cared for their pleasure, but if the author wrote about the good points as well I would not have felt so irritated.
The book, which is divided in chapters, were the even numbered ones talk about the love story (past) and the odd numbered ones talk about the actual building of the Taj Mahal, was also divided into:
* Even numbered chapters that listed treasures, extravagance, pleasures and sometimes cruelty and totally useless events that they didn’t make any sense expect add to the treasure. I wonder why would Arjumand be allowed to visit the empire’s treasury, and with the son who turned traitor!? And why would a Muslim princess visit a Hindu Temple??! (well after googling it, I know why the author put that in the book)
* And then there are the odd numbered chapters where the extravagance and the time and people needed to build the Taj Mahal are listed and in between we see glimpses of emperor Shah Jahan who now after his wife died cares nothing for the empire and spends his days obsessing about the building.
The author has a good writing style, but I didn’t like him.
The book was full of historical errors, especially with the dates.
And really all the romantic flowery talk, meant nothing because they were 15 and 12, so they just saw each other and baam their crazy for each other, and I’m supposed to believe that. It reminded me of the old badly translated books that I read a long time ago where the heroine faints after seeing the hero because her feeling were just overwhelming.
It’s a historical fact that Shah Jahan and Arjumand were in Love, and the Taj Mahal still stands to prove it, but if anybody checks the history, they were really engaged for 5 years then they got married and fell in love, and still their story is really romantic.
There were other stuff in the book that got me all irritated, a fuss was made about Shah Jahan being married to a Persian princess and how he had to get rid of her first, well, dah, he can have more than one wife, and he actually did.
But, to be truthful, my biggest issue was how explicit the author was about “pleasures”, even if what he wrote was true I REALLY DON’T WANT TO READ ABOUT IT. (disgusting)
I wish somebody would just warn me about stuff like that in books, you know on the back cover or reviews “Warning: Explicit scenes where its not normal, read at your own risk”
And that just born baby that “chuckled with laughter” was just too creepy.
I found Indu Sundaresan books on the same period to be much more entertaining, I have really enjoyed them, (even though she got a few Islamic practices wrong).