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Beneath a Marble Sky
by John Shors

Category: Fiction / Historical
0 pages; ISBN: 0929701712

Rating: 10/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


Beneath a Marble Sky
John Shors
McPherson, 2004, $24.95, 324 pp.
ISBN: 0929701712

Looking back to her salad days at Red Fort, Jahanara begins to tell the truth of her lineage to her disbelieving grandchildren. Back in 1632, her father the Emperor of Hindustan Shah Jahan mourned the loss of his beloved soulmate his wife Mumtaz Mahal, one of many spouse in his harem, but to him she was The Wife. He depended on her wisdom in all matters including war and politics. Foreseeing the future, Taj as the Emperor affectionately called her, mentored her wisest daughter Jahanara to replace her as the regal advisor if misfortune should strike her down, which occurs during childbirth.

Jahanara became the grieving Jahan’s right hand “man” instead of her brothers. She encourages her father to have the monument to his wife built and becomes the liaison with the architect Isa. As she and Isa fall into a forbidden love, her time at the royal court ends when a brother Aurangzeb violently takes the throne forcing her into exile after a harsh incarnation with her being raped; now years later she tells her story to her descendents.

BENEATH THE MARBLE SKY is a fantastic historical tale that may be the best the genre offered in 2004. In some ways the plot comes across as an autobiographical account because of the technique that John Shors employs, that of Jahanara telling about the events of several decades ago. The story line vividly describes the Indian subcontinent in the seventeenth century where love, intrigue, and betrayal are key elements. Mr. Shors has transported readers to a different time and place as he paints quite a picture to illuminate the events surrounding the construction of the Taj Mahal.

Harriet Klausner


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