The Feast of Roses by Indu Sundaresan
A Novel

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Synopsis

The love story of Emperor Jahangir and Mehrunnisa, begun in the critically praised debut novel The Twentieth Wife, continues in Indu Sundaresan's The Feast of Roses. This lush new novel tells the story behind one of the great tributes to romantic love and one of the seven wonders of the world -- the Taj Mahal.
Mehrunnisa, better known as Empress Nur Jahan, comes into Jahangir's harem as his twentieth and last wife. Almost from the beginning of her royal life she fits none of the established norms of womanhood in seventeenth-century India.
Mehrunnisa is the first woman Jahangir marries for love, at the "old" age of thirty-four. He loves her so deeply that he eventually transfers his powers of sovereignty to her.
Power and wealth do not come easily to Mehrunnisa -- she has to fight for them. She has a formidable rival in the imperial harem, Empress Jagat Gosini, who has schemed and plotted against Mehrunnisa from early on. Mehrunnisa's problems do not just lie within the harem walls, but at court, too, as she battles powerful ministers for supremacy. These ministers, who have long had Emperor Jahangir's confidence and trust, consider Mehrunnisa a mere woman who cannot have a voice in the outside world.
Mehrunnisa combats all of this by forming a junta of sorts with three men she can rely on -- her father, her brother, and Jahangir's son Prince Khurram. She demonstrates great strength of character and cunning to get what she wants, sometimes at a cost of personal sorrow when she almost loses her daughter's love. But she never loses the love of the man who bestows this power upon her -- Emperor Jahangir. The Feast of Roses is a tale of this power and love, the story of power behind a veil.
 

About Indu Sundaresan

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Indu Sundaresan was born in India and grew up on Air Force bases all over the country.  Her father, a fighter pilot, was also a storyteller—managing to keep his audiences captive and rapt with his flair for drama and timing.  He got this from his father, Indu's grandfather, whose visits were always eagerly awaited.  Sundaresan’s love of stories comes from both of them, from hearing their stories based on imagination and rich Hindu mythology, and from her father's writings.After an undergraduate degree in economics from India, Sundaresan came to the U.S. for graduate school at the University of Delaware and has an MS in operations research and an MA in economics. But all too soon, the storytelling gene beckoned.The Twentieth Wife, Sundaresan’s first novel, won the 2003 Washington State Book Award.  Her second novel, The Feast of Roses, is a sequel to the first and continues the story of Mehrunnisa, Empress Nur Jahan’s life as the most powerful woman of the Mughal dynasty that ruled India.
 
Published May 27, 2003 by Atria Books. 416 pages
Genres: History, Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Feast of Roses

Publishers Weekly

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Sundaresan picks up the story of Mehrunnisa, the remarkable heroine from her debut novel, Twenty Wives, as the so-called "Light of the World" consolidates

May 19 2003 | Read Full Review of The Feast of Roses: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Sundaresan picks up the story of Mehrunnisa, the remarkable heroine from her debut novel, Twenty Wives, as the so-called "Light of the World" consolidates her power as wife of Emperor Jahangir of the Mughal Empire in 17th-century India, only to see her dominion destroyed by her own aggressive ten...

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The Best Reviews

The Emperor actually cedes her much power to run the country though her harem rivals led by scheming Empress Jagat plan to run her off and the court ministers refuse to have some upstart female steal any of their power.

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India Today

The narrative alternates between seductive langour and racy action which capture the opulence and drama of the Mughal kings.

May 10 2004 | Read Full Review of The Feast of Roses: A Novel

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