As another reviewer has stated, this novel falls more along the lines of historical romance than anything else. I give it four stars for the lush writing, descriptions of the time and places, and vividly developed cast of characters. The narration is an added treat--Sneha Mathan does some of the best voices and accents I have ever heard.
The chief strength of The Twentieth Wife lies in its lively depictions of a very different culture and attitudes from the present day, while at the same time illuminating universal themes such as ambition and romance. I found Mehrunnisa's struggle with the limited role of women especially sympathetic, and her frustration was all too understandable. Her desire to enter the royal zenana had a ring of truth in that context, since it would open the doors to the kind of influence and power closed off to most women of her time.
That said, I confess to not liking the titular character or her romance all that much. This dulled my enjoyment of the book despite its excellence, hence the lack of a fifth star. It just seems a little too pat and easy that the love of Mehrunnisa's life and the man who could give her riches and power beyond imagination were one and the same. That really triggered my cynicism about the purported romance, a problem I have with all Cinderella tales. Furthermore, due to the limitations of the times, the only way Mehrunnisa could achieve her ambition was by pleasing a powerful man. That is very much in line with the reality of the period, and it was nice that she had the intelligence, drive, and luck to do so well for herself. It's just that the kind of "true love" that also happens to make you filthy rich and extremely powerful poses no interesting conflicts or dilemmas, so I could have done without all the gushing about love. If anything, it seems like a story of love of riches and power--something universal and understandable, but not particularly admirable in itself.
I loved this book, and the Feast of Roses, as well. It brought the Mogul Empire to life and kept me rapt for hours. The reader was splendid.
Fantasy and Romance Author
A historical novel in the vein of Philippa Gregory, chronicling the life of the woman who rose from humble origins as a Persian refugee's daughter to become a Mughal Empress, this book is a fascinating glimpse into the life, politics, and history of late 16th-century India.
What really makes this audiobook outstanding, however, is Ms. Mathan's terrific narration in Indian-spiced English. She skillfully and sensitively gives each character an individual voice. I will have to look up what else she's narrated!
Highly recommended for anyone looking for a well-written historical novel set in a period that hasn't been done to death.
I really enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. It was very long but that didn't really bother me - it was interesting and kept up the pace and the narrator did an excellent job - good story and characters - worth listening to.
Addicted to Audible!
I found this story to be tedious, despite the wonderful performance. I just didnt enjoy the story enough to keep listening after 4 hrs.
From the first few minutes I started bargaining with myself into listening for an hour everyday. What an awful way to feel about the story in the first impressions of the book!! (I usually listen to 2-6 hours of audiobooks a day) I tried it for 3 day and got 3 hours in and just wasn't enjoying the book at all. The characters were just so bland and I didn't see the reasoning behind any of their ambitions. Why was this little girl so obsessed with this rude, horrible prince? Why was the prince so selfish and self absorbed? And what he does to his father... I just couldn't stand all the awful pointless characters and finally decided that this book wasn't for me. Also, why the insta-love? That's what I'd call lazy writing. DNF'd after 3 hours. I ended up reading reviews from other people on goodreads and am glad that I didn't finish this book as I'm sure I wouldn't have liked it any better as the book went along. The narration was okay but didn't wow me in any way.
A good story teller pens this historical fiction. From the first page to the final chapter, the reader is transported to the fascinating imperial courts of Mughal India
Avid reader, audible always me to listen as I do other things. Fan of satirical comedy, historical fiction, and children's fantasy.
The narrator's voice is so soothing, hopefully I can find more works by her. Though the author is very good at describing the surroundings, the story was dull. The ending is especially unsatisfying with the length of this book. I was also especially disappointed because the summary painted this book as highly exciting, it was not.
I have read this book at least three times and having the audio book is a guilty pleasure. This story is a roller coaster of emotion that feels genuine and not forced. The pace of the book is great and the performer does a lovely job.