Jon's Reviews > The Enchantress Of Florence
The Enchantress Of Florence
by Salman Rushdie
by Salman Rushdie
Feb 11, 2009
What a wonderful book. A vast series of Arabian Nights tales, all linked, but with tantalizingly fluid chronology and meaning, with some rock-hard realistic sections in the Florence of the Medicis, although now that I think of it, those had plenty of enchantment too. The book is divided into a number of chapters, each titled on a separate initial page by its first few words. Some of them: "In the day's last light the glowing lake" "At dawn the haunting sandstone palaces" "And here again with bright silks flying" "Everything he loved was on his doorstep" "By the Caspian Sea the old potato witches". How can anybody not keep reading with titles like these? The reason I only gave the book four stars was that I thought the narrative sagged in the middle--ambiguity became so overwhelming (everything is true, nothing is true, what is truth but an artful lie?) that I couldn't find a single place firm enough to put a foot. I floundered and began to suspect that the whole thing would end in nothing but metafictional ironic playfulness. But it didn't. A severe problem in chronology, which Rushdie played with throughout, eventually became resolved in the last pages, and most of my questions were answered with a very welcome sense of finality. There is a wonderfully enigmatic character self-named "the Mughal of Love," and Rushdie wrings every possible meaning out of that phrase, pretty much as A.S.Byatt did with the word "Possession" in that book. This is my first attempt at Rushdie. His masterpiece is apparently Midnight's Children. I'm very much looking forward to that one.
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