I bought this on a whim during an audible sale and am very glad I did. My next credit will go towards purchasing the sequel, The Feast of Roses. It narrates the love story between Mehrunissa, the daughter of a Persian bureaucrat who flees his native land to seek better fortune in India, and Prince Salim (Emperor Jahangir) in late 16th and early 17th century India. The two meet as adolescents and are only able to marry as mature adults. Sundaresan is excellent in the small details - the tastes and smells of exotic foods, the ambiance of street life, of secluded royal courts, and of political intrigue and military campaigns. I imagine this book might appeal more to women than men. However, it provides a fascinating window into this period of Indian history. The narrator is wonderful, very expressive. Mehrunissa, by the way, is the aunt of the woman for whom the Taj Majal was built. She became a powerful political figure in her own right; this story is told in the sequel.
I listened to and loved The Twentieth Wife and bought this title with my very next credit. It is the sequel which takes the story of Empress Nur Jahan from her marriage to Jahangir to the time of his death. Sundaresan is very sympathetic towards both, tempering Nur Jahan's ambition, and emphasizing her romantic love for her husband. While the passion shared between the two was legendary, I have learned that most historical accounts emphasize her tendency to be manipulative and harsh and suggest that she took advantage of her husband's addictions to drugs and alcohol. Here she seems to be valiantly struggling to be her own person in a man's world. I personally liked this softer interpretation. It is a great love story, but I question the historical accuracy of its anachronistic feminist overtones.
The narrator is very good. There are perhaps a few too many descriptions of the oppressive heat, street life, and meals. Overall, however, the author provides a fascinating account of Indian politics and history of the seventeenth century and the strategies used to deal with increasingly intrusive Portuguese and British merchants and missionaries. Nur Jahan, by the way, was the aunt of the woman for whom the Taj Majal was built.
My first inclination was to say it was hard to put down but that doesn't really apply for an audiobook. In any event, to me this seemed like a book that is probably even more pleasurable to hear than to read. Plowing through southern dialect on the printed page can be a chore or seem strained. Not so in the hands of the capable narrators here. I especially loved the voice of Abileen, but Minnie and Skeeter were fine too. This is a moving narrative about the relationships between white women and their maids in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, told primarily from the perspective of two black domestic servants and one young white woman. It conveys beautifully the tensions, contradictions, and at times, sheer ridiculousness of attempting to maintain the color line at home where black women cook, clean, and raise children for white women. It trails off a little at the very end but still I look forward to listening to this again. Highly recommended!
Without being preachy or overly strident, Wallace asks the reader to think about why we prize certain foods over others and what constitutes a "gourmet" experience. If one eats not just to ingest calories, but pursues sensory and aesthetic awareness, should one not also think about how food gets to one's plate? This is not a simplistic diatribe about animal rights or vegetarian propaganda. Rather, it is a thoughtful meditation about the difficulties of maintaining full awareness of what one eats. He also has some amusing, if somewhat smug, things to say about mass tourism in the form of a Maine Lobster Festival. In any event this was well worth a listen. Bittersweet too, to hear Wallace narrate, given his tragic death about a year ago.
This was a nice freebie. The old lady deals with humor and some wisdom when faced with the complications of finding the grail and deciding whether or not to part with it. The reader was fine; I could have done without the laugh track though.
Utterly far-fetched and predictable. I can see how Kelli might discover that her long-term friend "Rock" (please!) is worth a second look. But whatever does he see in her? What a shallow bubble-head! She bought her car because it was "cute." She likes a "take charge" guy. Well at least in the end, she communicates directly while he dithers. Predictably, they get together. I rolled my eyes more than once.
I listened to this while doing household chores. It's OK as a distraction but I'm glad I didn't pay for it.
This is one of the better sequels, or in this case a prequel, to McCaffrey's original six Pern novels. Robinton is a great character and although she makes him suffer more disappointment in life than anybody should bear, McCaffrey fills in a lot of interesting "historical" detail leading up to Dragonquest. However, she sometimes errs in the details (how could Sebell simultaneously be an adolescent journeyman when Fax takes Ruatha hold and still be the same age some twenty years later when Menolly arrives at the Harper hall?)
The narrator is generally very good and uses a variety of voices. My only quibble is that children and adolescent boys sound a bit too whiny and are delivered with a vaguely distracting NY/NJ style accent.
Overall, highly enjoyable. I would order it again.
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