dimanche 13 avril 2008

A monument to love

I must admit that it was the title and the beautiful cover that accompanied it was what first attracted me to this book. I thought to myself that it must surely be a good book. And this proved to be true enough. Written jointly by Diana and Michael Preston, A teardrop on the cheek of time is about the story of the Taj Mahal, the world’s most famous monument to love. But while it is about the Taj Mahal, it delves a lot deeper and gives an astute, learned and complete historical and cultural background of the epoch. The book introduces an impressive cast of characters that made up the powerful Moghul Empire from the founding patriarch Babur all the way to the Aurangzeb who deposed his grieving father Shah Jahan. More importantly we meet the beautiful and enigmatic Mumtaz Mahal, the woman who inspired such a wondrous monument. In writing this book the way they have, the authors have succeeded in fleshing out these characters so that they jump out of the page with intense immediacy. The extensive research is certainly appreciable and does justice to the subject matter.
While this is a historical book, it is nonetheless written in a highly compelling style. Within the story of the Moghul Empire is a story with Shakespearean elements and these were very skillfully brought out by the authors. They were able to weave together all the disparate strands of history, romance, political strife and family conflict together into a compulsively readable tome. At the end of the book, one sees the Taj Mahal in an altogether different light.

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