what a wonderful book - i can't wait to read her other books. A really intriging book
Compelling, impeccably rich, and addictive read... highly recommended!
The historical, cultural and environmental references completely transport the reader into another time and place. Sundaresan makes you wish you could visit the small princely state of Rudrakot, the main setting in the novel. The detail never lacks, and yet, always finds a way to become interesting and fresh. All of that exotic imagery is balanced by a creatively-paced novel that leaves chapters constantly hanging, with unexpected twists and betrayals.
I think the best part of this novel is that its plot description on the jacket sleeve (and on this website) totally falls short of how immensely complex and captivating the multiple storylines are. This isn't just about a love story -- in fact, the romance is not much more than a light-hearted complement to the political and racial challenges of the time. There are far more interesting story twists to be explored and characters to meet in this novel.
That being said, the romance in the novel is fairy-tale-like at best. Don't expect to truly fall in love with the leading couple, because I feel they are intentionally exagerrated. I think Sundaresan did this on purpose... once you get to know the novel, you will begin to see how it almost has a 'fairy tale' feel... "Once upon a time in a land far far away... under impossible circumstances, this American soldier steals the resident's daughter away from the fair Prince. Asides from the racial motives to explore their relationship, I think Sundaresan wrote them this way because she constantly emphasizes the "magic of India" in the novel... at one point a character says 'In India, all legends are real'. So perhaps the relationship is supposed to feel magical. Despite the reality of war and political hardships for these characters, a nearly impossible love could exist.
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