Cover image for Beneath a marble sky : a novel of the Taj Mahal
Title:
Beneath a marble sky : a novel of the Taj Mahal
Author:
Shors, John, 1969-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Kingston, N.Y. : McPherson & Co., [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
324 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780929701714
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

In 1632, the Emperor of Hindustan, Shah Jahan, consumed by grief over the death of his empress, Mumtaz Mahal, ordered the building of a grand mausoleum to symbolize the greatness of their love. Against scenes of unimaginable wealth and power, murderous sibling rivalries, and cruel despotism, Princess Jahanara tells the extraordinary story of how the Taj Mahal came to be, describing her own life as an agent in its creation and as a witness to the fateful events surrounding its completion. To escape a brutal arranged marriage, Jahanara must become the court liaison to Isa, architect of the Taj Mahal. She is soon caught between her duty to her mother's memory, the rigid strictures imposed upon women, and a new, though forbidden, love. With exceptional courage, Jahanara dares to challenge the bigotry and blindness at court in an effort to spare the empire from civil war, and to save her father from his bellicose son, Aurangzeb, a man whose hatred would extinguish the Islamic enlightenment from the Mughal Empire. To do so she must enlist her Hindu friend, Ladli, and her guardian, Nizam, as spies, and urge her brother Dara, the designated heir to the throne, down from the ivory tower of his philosophical inquiries. As a princess and a mother, as a sister and a daughter, Jahanara will find herself faced time and again with impossible choices, and will discover the real meaning of her regal birthright. In Beneath a Marble Sky John Shors re-creates an historical Hindustan brimming with breathtaking intrigue and containing the secret truth of the Taj Mahal for a world still in awe of its enduring majesty. Foreign language editions: French (four editions), Greek, Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, Serbian, Catalan, Slovenian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Korean, Indonesian, Polish, Russian.


Author Notes

John Shor's novels have won multiple awards and have been translated into twenty-five languages. His novels include Beneath a Marble Sky, Beside a Burning Sea, Dragon House, The Wishing Trees, and Cross Currents.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Shors's spirited debut novel tells the story of the eldest daughter of the 17th-century emperor who built the Taj Mahal. From her self-imposed exile, Jahanara recalls growing up in the Red Fort; the devotion her parents, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, had for each other; and the events that took place during the construction of the fabulous monument to their love. Although Jahan is the emperor and has many wives, Mumtaz (he calls her Taj) is his soul mate, a constant companion and wise political consultant. She even travels with him into battle, where she eventually dies giving birth to their 14th child. Fortunately, she has the foresight to begin preparing her favorite daughter, Jahanara, by instructing the girl in the arts of influence and political strategy. Thus the young woman is able to pick up where her savvy mother left off. From then on it is Jahanara who advises the emperor, often instead of her dreamy brother, Dara, who is the rightful heir to the throne. It is she who helps with construction of the magnificent mausoleum for Mumtaz's remains and who falls in love with its architect, Isa, a man whom she can never marry. And it is she who leads a failed effort to defend the throne against a coup by her evil brother, Aurangzeb. With infectious enthusiasm and just enough careful attention to detail, Shors give a real sense of the times, bringing the world of imperial Hindustan and its royal inhabitants to vivid life. (May 28) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

In his debut, Shors offers a glimpse into the politics and intrigue of the 17th-century court of India during and after the construction of the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum for the beloved wife of Mughul emperor Shah Jahan. Told through the eyes of the emperor's daughter, the story contrasts the opulence of the court with the desperate poverty of the citizens; we also see the influence of women on political decisions and the perpetual tensions between religious fundamentalism and tolerance. The book is a thrilling tale of the interactions of characters recognizable for their loyalty, duplicity, and passion and will appeal to a wide audience. The author has included enough accurate details to make regular readers of historical fiction happy, too. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Kim Uden Rutter, Antioch, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.