Ariela's Reviews > The Twentieth Wife

The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Aug 23, 2009

it was amazing

Empress Nur Jahan was the twentieth and favorite wife of Mogul Emperor Jahangir. Born into an aristocratic Persian family who had immigrated to India, her birth name was Mehrunnisa. She was a remarkable beauty, with blue eyes and pale skin, who fell in love with Jahangir as a young girl serving Empress Ruqayya Sultan Begam (chief wife of Jahangir’s father, Emperor Akbar) in the Imperial harem. Then a prince, Jahangir was likewise enamored with her, but at seventeen she was married off to a soldier named Ali Quli as a sign of favor from the Emperor. Numerous rebellions against Jahangir eventually led to Ali Quli’s death, however, and as a widow the now twenty-something Mehrunnisa was returned to Empress Ruqayya Sultan Begam’s side. Inside the imperial harem again, Mehrunnisa’s love for Jahangir was finally allowed to bloom, and after some clever scheming on Ruqayya’s part Jahangir and Mehrunnisa married. Upon ascension to the throne Jahangir renamed her Nur Jahan, which means “Light of the World.” She had formidable skills in administration, politics, economics, and culture, all of which she could now use as Jahangir’s favorite wife. Her power and influence were unprecedented in the Moghul empire, where women remained veiled behind the harem walls. Nevertheless Nur Jahan was able to reach beyond the harem through determination, intelligence, and her passionate relationship with Emeperor Jahangir. “The Twentieth Wife” begins with the birth of Mehrunnisa on a dusty side road as her family flees Persia, and ends with her ascension to the throne as Nur Jahan. In between these two events is a remarkable story about love, destiny and the resilience of the human spirit. Sundaresan’s attention to historical detail and largely accurate representation of Nur Jahan’s life creates a vivid narrative that is hard to put down. As soon as I finished “The Twentieth Wife” I couldn’t help but leap right into “The Feast of Roses,” which continues Nur Jahan’s story.
4 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Twentieth Wife.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

09/26/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Vicar Sayeedi Thanks, Ariela. Five stars is very exciting. I'm planning to read the entire trilogy. I've recently been reading, "The Twentieth Wife."

The other books in the Taj Mahal series seem to be very good, as well. I've been researching Mughal history for several years now so I'm very excited to read them.

I recently stumbled upon Sundaresan's series while publishing my new novel, "Legacy of The Peacock Throne" - a work of historical fiction about the lives of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz (Mehrunnisa's niece) - and I was taken by surprise to find another story about the same family/dynasty. Best wishes.

Vicar... (Goodreads Author)

message 2: by Readers (new)

Readers Cosmos Get a chance to interact with the author of The Taj Trilogy - Indu Sundaresan. Her recent book The Mountain of Light has been released worldwide now. You can talk to her about her book, writing in general, her journey as a whole etc.

back to top