Author: Indu Sundaresan
Publishing Date: 18 January 2012
The Feast of Roses is an incredibly rich, satisfying in small bites and a very addictive tale of love. If you have read my review of The Twentieth Wife, you would know that I enjoyed reading it immensely. It is the same with The Feast of Roses.
The Feast of Roses begins immediately after Mehrunnisa and Jahangir’s marriage. From the beginning it is clear that Mehrunnisa does not fit into the established norms of womanhood in Mughal India. She enters the harem as Jahangir’s twentieth and last wife, the only wife he married for love. Jahangir is so deeply in love with Mehrunnisa that he cannot refuse her anything and eventually transfers his powers of sovereignty to her.
Although Mehrunnisa enjoys the Emperor’s love and favours, power and wealth does not come easily to her. Mehrunnisa’s biggest rival is Empress Jagat Gosini, who has schemed and plotted against her since the beginning. Moreover, she has to battle powerful ministers and nobles in the court. These ministers, who have been childhood cohorts to the Emperor, did not want Mehrunnisa to have a voice or any kind of power in the court. In The Feast of Roses, Mehrunnisa displays great force of character and a keen intelligence as she combats all the court and harem politics. She gets what she wants, sometimes at great personal cost, even almost losing the love of her only daughter.
The scope of The Feast of Roses is impressive because of the numerous details and descriptions of myriad royal ceremonies of the Mughal Court. The novel moves at a regular pace, throwing light upon the enigmatic and fascinating life of Nur Jahan. What I liked about this novel is that the periodic details are mostly true. This made the story very appealing to me. Indu Sundaresan has woven a rich tapestry of Mughal history. The affluence of the court, the harem politics, cunning and ruthless nobles and queens are all depicted richly in The Feast of Roses.
The Feast of Roses is an excellent sequel to The Twentieth wife. It brings to life an under explored period in Indian history and tells the fate of one of history’s most intriguing women but above all, at heart, it is a wonderful tale of love.