Book Review:

The Royal Diaries

Jahanara


Jahanara, Princess of Princesses, is one of the many books in the Royal Diaries series that includes books like Elizabeth I, Cleopatra VII and Victoria among many others.


Jahanara by Kathryn Lasky, tells the story of Jahanara, the oldest among the seven surviving off-springs of the Moghul Emperor Shah Jahan (Kurram) and Mumtaz Mahal (Arjumand Banu Begum), in the form of the pages from her diary.  Jahanara's story is told from December of 1627 when Shah Jahan was forced to camp in the Deccan along with his family, to June 1631 when her mother, Mumtaz Mahal passes away. The first person narration beautifully describes the strong relationship she shares with her mother, her father and the oldest of her brothers, Dara.

 

We all know about the Moghul King, Shah Jahan, who built Taj Mahal in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Even as the world famous Taj Mahal stands as an eternal symbol of their love, not much is known about the woman behind the eternal love story. We get a beautiful insight into the woman from her daughter's perspective. The story precisely captures the princesses' struggle with being a princess- having huge diamonds and rubies and an entourage of servants on the one hand and yet the feeling of loneliness and despair on the other. The book brings to life the sheer luxury that the royal enjoy, the beautiful palace, it's gardens, the royal food prepared with finesse and care, and yet the hardships that unmistakebly comes with it. At times the narration reduces to a simple story of a daughter and her mother or a sister and her brothers or dreams and concerns of a young girl.   

 

 

The book certainly conveys the drama that goes on inside the palace walls, not to mention the opulence therein. The dramatic descriptions of the huge diamonds, the rubies, the sapphires takes your breath away. It offers to explain how and why Aurangzeb, third in line to the throne, did what he did. It portrays the power of the 'purdah'- clad women.


The book goes on to educate the readers about the Moghul dynasty, a dynasty that ruled India for over a century. The linage presented with charts and some portraits in the epilogue are concise, interesting and keeps you wanting more. It includes details of the first Moghul, all others that followed, their queens and descendants and also about all things associated with that era- the culture, the traditions, the Koh-i-Nor and the Taj Mahal- to name a few.


The book is a must-read for your teenage daughter/ son and you. It's a easy read - the language is simple (even attempting to explain every traditions and translate each phrase), the pace- fast and the content- gripping and intriguing.

(Review by Sonal Kulshrestha)


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About The Royal Diaries:The Royal Diaries series, published by Scholastic Press, are fictional diaries of real female royalties from across the world through their childhood written by various different authors. At the end of the book, facts and portraits of the real historical figures are provided. This series is a spin-off of the 'Dear America' series, also by Scholastic.

 

About Kathryn Lasky: Kathryn Lasky, an American author, has written several of the Dear America books, the Royal Dairies books and others like Sugaring Time, The Night Journey, Wolves of the Beyond and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She holds a master's degree in Early Childhood Education and most recently was awarded the Anne V. Zarrow Award for Young Readers' Literature in 2011, according to her website. for Young Readers’ Literature