BookBrowse Reviews Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors

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Beneath a Marble Sky

by John Shors

Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors X
Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2004, 325 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2006, 352 pages

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An impressive debut about the building of the Taj Mahal. 1st Novel

Travel back to the politics and intrigues of 17th-century Hindustan (northern India). Emperor Shah Jahan's beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, is dead (giving birth to their 14th child) and he's determined to build the most beautiful and magnificent mausoleum ever seen to house the body of the woman he called Taj. The story is told by Jahanara, the favorite daughter of the Emperor and Mumtaz Mahal.

Life was good when her mother was alive, but following her death the Emperor is grief stricken and barely able to rule. Meanwhile, his second son, Aurangzeb, starts to build his brutal power base in a clear attempt to oust Jahanara's older brother, Dara, from his role as heir presumptive; and Jahanara is married off to a very nasty bit of work.

Realizing that his daughter is married to a violent and repulsive man, but unable to sever the marriage for political reasons, the Emperor sets Jahanara up as overseer of the mausoleum project, which allows her a convenient excuse to escape the confines of her husband's house. As the walls of the building, that is now known world-wide as the Taj Mahal, grow - so does her love for the young architect in charge of the project.

This is a highly readable first novel combining elegant prose, exotic setting and historical accuracy - recommended for any who enjoy quality historical fiction, with a dollop of romance thrown in for good measure.

This review first ran in the June 15, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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