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Maharanis: The Extraordinary Tale of Four Indian Queens and Their Journey from Purdah to Parliament
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Maharanis: The Extraordinary Tale of Four Indian Queens and Their Journey from Purdah to Parliament

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  205 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
A rare, exotic portrait of the matriarchs of a brilliant Indian family

Ranging from the final days of the Raj and the British Empire to the present, Lucy Moore vividly re-creates a splendid lost world and describes India's national growing pains through the sumptuous, audacious lives of four ravishing, influential women of the same family- Sunity Devi, friend to Queen Vic
Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 27th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published 1991)
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Margaret Sankey
Nov 14, 2011 rated it liked it
While the British were threatened when Indian princes did things outside of polo and debauchery, they liked it when the princely women showed themselves to be modern by leaving purdah and advocating for education and progressive reform--and thus the Raj allowed the rule of a series of regents and powerful women. Lucy Moore chronicles the four matriarchs of three families, the dynasties of Jaipur, Cooch Behar and Baroda as they struggled with how Anglicized to become, sending sons away to boardin ...more
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful history lesson. Lucy Moore has done some in depth research work and takes us through the lives of 4 extraordinary women who not only led glamorous lives but also used their positions of power to the betterment of their subjects.
Some inescapable facts - Women empowerment a century back was completely due to belief's of the men in their lives - fathers and/or husbands. Educating women was seen as a waste of effort and resources and most high born women grew up in the purdah with
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
While the language sometimes lacks lyricism in favor of a more journalistic tone (true to the author's roots), the story of these four women is turely extroartinary. Amidst increadible wealth, the central women and their families are depicted as sympathetically human. They are impressive people searching for their place and identities amidst rapidly changing social, political, and economic times.
Sep 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Women of Royal India

This is a fascinating story of four maharanis who worked tirelessly to transition from a very chaotic final days of their kingdom and the British Raj into the modern democratic and secular India. For just over a century after the British invasion of India, India’s princely families lived in an extraordinary cocoon of privilege and magnificence, protected from mass democratization ushered in the modern era by their complex association with British Empire.

Author Lucy Moor
Mary Anne
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is an engaging look at 20th Century India, through the lens of four, related royal ladies. Through the lens of their lives, the march of India towards independence and the march of women out of the confinement of purdah (similar to the Middle Eastern harem concept) and into public life. As well as the progress away from being a colonial power, this book also shows the process by which the nearly-all-powerful monarchies were dissolved.

By the end, one suspects that the author has fallen
Aug 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
There's a chunk of culture across India you won't find on a map that starts somewhere in Rajasthan, and encompasses what are broadly the present-day states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, eventually ending at West Bengal. In terms of contemporary customs, traditions, beliefs and rituals, these societies are vastly non-different, with minimal individualistic tweaks over time. I attribute this fascinating homogeneity to the princely-India Maharanis by Lucy Moore speaks of. An exhilarating ...more
Mar 24, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
An interesting account of Indian aristocracy/royalty through the life stories of 4 remarkable women. A journey from the Raj of the late nineteenth century through the struggle for independence to almost the present day. It is a remarkable tale but can be a little confusing and I found some of the relationships difficult to follow. It is very much the story of rich upper class women and there is little of the grinding poverty of much of the rest of Indian society.
I think I understand more the pow
Dec 28, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book was fascinating and sad, telling the story of India's political and cultural transition from the point of view of the ruling princely families that ended up giving up their power and position, not all willingly. the descriptions of the idyllic childhoods were enthralling. the story focuses on 3 generations of women and how they adjusted to and adapted to the changes in society, also how some lived in a time of purdah (segregation from men and the outside world). it was very inspiring t ...more
Oct 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I gave this one five stars not because it was the best written work I have ever ready, but the story that was told was, like the title suggests, extraordinary.

In a world where women exsisted to be wives the four maharanis whose lives Lucy Moore has chronicled were given the best western educations and allowed to grow. Through their lives they transformed a cultre and gave birth to a nation. In everything they did they were mere humans who took their roles of mystical rulers for the good of their
Sep 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that it is safe to say that there was a lot of controversy about the British occupation of India and its affect on its citizens.

The Maharani's in this books had many advantages and changed history for the women of India, it begs the question as to whether these changes would have ever happened without the involvement and hand of the British occupants.

On the other hand it may have been damaging to a point in which the future rulers were too westernized.

While this was an interesting look i
Sreenorainee Dev
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think these Royalties lived a very exquisite life having all the best they could afford during their time of reign.and the maharanis certainly exercised every aspects of feminism.i wished i was one of its sad to know when you are ripped of your privileges and forced to live a life which you are not used to.this novel really brings you back to the time ..excellent imagery..fantastic!!
Malinda Lamm
Sep 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Fascinating to read about real women whose lives changed so dramatically during their own life times and who also greatly influenced the independence of women in India. It was also interesting to learn more about the political governance of India, both the Colonial British and the Independent States.
Jun 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially, I really had a hard time getting into the book, but I ended up really enjoying this book. Great history and background on the British/India relationship. I think I'd like to read more about this time in history. Of course, it could be I just love to read about the royals...of any country.

Sep 20, 2009 rated it liked it
I really enjoy books that give me an insight into cultures I am not familiar with and I enjoyed that aspect of this book. The author did a great job of showing all sides of the people involved, making them real. I would have preferred if the author had let the narrative stand on its own instead of justifying and condoning negative behavior under the context of personal circumstances.
Somya Sharma
Jul 19, 2011 rated it liked it
This was one of my impulsive purchases but I think I quite enjoyed reading it. Aah its always fun to read about how blue blooded mortals spend their life and this book gives you a nice peep into lives of much written about royal ladies. Paisa vasool!
Aug 27, 2007 rated it liked it
This is a great book, lots of detail (sometimes, just sometimes, a little too much?) about a world I previously knew nothing of. At times I made myself get through it, but it was definitely worth it.
Apr 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
learn about the english colonialism (as well as its decline) in india through the stories of 3 generations of maharanis and their profound impact on everything from india's purdah to its sari style to its political progressions.
Patricia Doty
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! I thoroughly enjoyed the historical account of the four Maharanis of India and how their courage and willfulness helped shape the environment of modern day India for the women of today. Lots to learn about a country I knew virtually nothing about!
Aug 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, eme-s, 2013grc
Not quite what I was expecting but an interesting read.
James Axtell
Great background to the changes in Indian history over the last 120 years
rated it really liked it
Apr 17, 2013
Kristina Gomez
rated it it was ok
Aug 13, 2010
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Dec 10, 2007
Ms A P Fabbri
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Feb 27, 2017
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Dec 07, 2010
Susan Mathieu
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Jul 11, 2013
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Lucy Moore was born in 1970 and educated in Britain and the United States before reading history at Edinburgh University. She is the editor of Con Men and Cutpurses: Scenes from the Hogarthian Underworld, and author of the critically acclaimed The Thieves Opera: The Remarkable Lives and Deaths of Jonathan Wild, Thief-Taker, and Jack Sheppard, House-Breaker (Viking 1996) as well as Amphibious Thing ...more
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