The Next Best Book Club discussion

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Group Read Discussions > Beneath a Marble Sky

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message 1: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10013 comments Mod
Hi Everyone! Today kicks off our February group read.

Tina will be leading this discussion.

Have at it!!!


message 2: by Chris (new)

Chris | 4 comments So close to finishing this, great read.


message 3: by Tina (new)

Tina | 143 comments What drew me to this book in the first place was the Taj Mahal, about which I knew next to nothing. When I'm reading, I always think about the setting and how it figures as a character in the story. How does the Taj Mahal fit as a character in this book?


message 4: by Chris (new)

Chris | 4 comments The Taj Mahal is a major character in this book. It is the one constant that is always there, symbolic and strong. It is the site of suffering, anguish, love and death.
Whilst everyone is fighting, feuding and scheming, it seems to emit a calmness and respect and is never threatened.


message 5: by Meredith (new)

Meredith (meredithgayle) | 32 comments I startedcreadinf this book a few years ago and sort of forgot about it. I think I should pick it up again the next time I go to the library.


message 6: by Chloe (new)

Chloe moran (morac008) | 5 comments I never red this book but sound good


message 7: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 6 comments When I got this book in the mail, I was not hopeful. I'm not far into it, but it grabbed me right away!


message 8: by Evalani (new)

Evalani | 86 comments The Taj Mahal is a monument to the Emperors wife. It is her tomb but as it is being built is supposed to resemble her beauty...As the romance continues it could also be Jahanara as the continuation of her mother. I see the Taj Mahal as a symbol of the fairness and goodness that the common Queen brought to the Empire, as so many help to build it it is a commemoration of her life and those who loved her. This is especially important as the characters begin to take on there respective roles as heir to the throne, and the deviousness that persists among those of the Court.


message 9: by Nancy from NJ (new)

Katz Nancy from NJ (nancyk18) I read this book several years ago and fell in love with the Taj Mahal and the wonderful live story which surrounds this palace.


message 10: by Tina (new)

Tina | 143 comments Kathy wrote: "When I got this book in the mail, I was not hopeful. I'm not far into it, but it grabbed me right away!"

So glad that you are enjoying it!


message 11: by Evalani (new)

Evalani | 86 comments Yes this was a wonderful read. I also enjoyed it very much and am looking forward to the discussion!


message 12: by Tina (new)

Tina | 143 comments The author of this book chose Princess Jahanara as the focus for his story. How well does John Shors handle the point of view, dialog, and motivations of a woman protagonist? Does it ring true to you? Or should he have chosen Nizam or Isa ? If so, would the book be as easily characterized as a romance instead of adventure?


message 13: by Evalani (new)

Evalani | 86 comments Interesting point of view. I liked the adventerous parts of the princesses personality. YEs she was also a romantic coon but I felt equally drawn to her daring and adventure and willing ness to play outside the lines. I think had the story been told from a males pov it would lack the same development of character because we expect the war stories to be told by men. What did you all think of the princess in the middle of the War, a total misfit or right in her element?
She was definitely the voice behind the scenes, and her conspiratorial nature made for an exciting heroin. Nizam or Isa would have been interesting protagonists, however there rolls were limited in some ways, so the story could not have been carried through the same way. And no the book could not have been as easily catagorized as a romance instead of an adventure. Perhaps because although at times I wondered the thought aloud, like why didn't Isa make it more of a demand on his loyalty and hers to him.
Shouldn't all ships have a safe harbor. He was hers, but as much as she was a romantic heroin she was also a magistrate in her our way of the Taj Mahal.


message 14: by Evalani (new)

Evalani | 86 comments I think there is also a sense that I wasn't really in Janahara, but rather
her character was central to the story. I think he had a rather slippery grip on womanhood in some ways and in others he created a likable living voice. I didn't think that his explanation of he loyalty to her father and brother and mother were treated as the sole reason for her swaying between decisions to leave her empire or to stay. I guess I felt that as strong as her need to stay with them she also wanted to leave, but her I think this weakened her because she was also very brave to do the things she did, but it is an interesting topic as women were not the rulers in the story, and therefore her motives and feelings were somewhat obscured by the happenings and positions of authority and doings around her. Perhaps ...


message 15: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 6 comments Tina wrote: "Kathy wrote: "When I got this book in the mail, I was not hopeful. I'm not far into it, but it grabbed me right away!"

So glad that you are enjoying it!"


Now that I've read a lot about the significant historical inaccuracies in this book, I'm no longer interested, unfortunately.


message 16: by Evalani (new)

Evalani | 86 comments What part are not historically accurate? Note: I think there is probably a lot of poetic licensing.


message 17: by Tina (new)

Tina | 143 comments Evalani wrote: "What part are not historically accurate? Note: I think there is probably a lot of poetic licensing."

This poetic license is a great point to discuss. For books grounded in some historical event or focused on a true character from the past, an author must weave a story, invent dialog, and create tensions that will entice modern readers to pick up the book and willingly enter into that other time & place. It is still fiction after all. Is this blurring of fact and fiction permissable or off putting?


message 18: by Tina (new)

Tina | 143 comments Evalani wrote: "The Taj Mahal is a monument to the Emperors wife. It is her tomb but as it is being built is supposed to resemble her beauty...As the romance continues it could also be Jahanara as the continuation..."

I loved the scene in the story when the Taj Mahal's scaffolding was taken down by everyone to grab the lumber and reuse/repurpose it since it was such a rare commodity. They floated it down the river. They hauled it off by hand. They were not going to miss their chance to score this luxury item. Kind of reminded me of Black Friday sales or door busters!


message 19: by Tina (new)

Tina | 143 comments Evalani wrote: "Interesting point of view. I liked the adventerous parts of the princesses personality. YEs she was also a romantic coon but I felt equally drawn to her daring and adventure and willing ness to pla..."

I do agree that the princess in the middle of that battle scene seemed a real miss. I would have expected her to behave more like Joan of Arc or Princess Leia.


message 20: by Annelies (new)

Annelies Heidekamp It was a nice read. I liked the building of the Taj and the details of the life in a palace. The intricacies of court and such. And the prose was easy enough.

The story itself felt a bit flat to me though. The characters were a bit black and white. Really evil or honorable and good. Most things were kind of predictable: bad marriage, abuse, power struggle etc. But without, there would be no story.

I don't mind that the writer took a lot of historic liberty. But he might have considered a story which have put more shades of grey in the different characters. Then, it would be more realistic.


message 21: by Evalani (last edited Feb 16, 2017 06:29PM) (new)

Evalani | 86 comments The liberty of detail into which the author went I thought was a bit extreme for fiction. I thought the demise of the princess was a bit masochistic, and got no wiser for it. It made me think of the horrible state of many women who are way to good for that kind of thing. Underneath I think there was an unspoken message that women have to connive and manipulate in order to influence power in the world. So tot it in with the real bravery that was displayed by Janahara going to fight a war against her evil broth, yeah I expected it to have been more of Joan of Arc or Princess Leia. Ok.

The part where they are salvaging the pieces from the Taj Mahal is probably one of my favorite parts. It shows the wisdom of the utility of that which would otherwise have been discarded. When all is not lost nothing is lost.

I think the Characters being polarized as good or evil made it entertaining as I could never know what evil thing would be outdone, the things people are capable of! All in all I think it was a winding tale made me a bit dizzy a bit bored, but it definitely felt like there was a lot of fiction in the plot. I think the only part that may have been real was the building of the Taj Mahal.
For that was a real place, all other events are to authors sole responsibility, and a beautiful piece of architecture is something to be proud of, as the architect and I did sort of get this part of the story and liked the way Isa managed to stay true to his vision despite all the treachery and chaos. I think the ending was a bit funny too, sad but funny. And I do like a story that is real in this sense where things turn out ok, but not so far from what life could be like.


aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) In real history, the Princess never married, as far as anyone knows, so there would not have been a daughter. Regardless, leaving aside issues of how historically correct the book is, I thought the Princess hysterically stupid.


message 23: by Strangechilde (new)

Strangechilde (cleodhna) | 3 comments I didn't like it. To be fair, romances aren't normally my cup of tea, but there are those I have enjoyed and learned from. This isn't one of them. For a book purporting to be historical romance, it's extremely light on history; there's nothing of any real interest that you couldn't learn from a casual perusal of a tourist pamphlet. The characters lack any complexity or depth... maybe that's a trope of the genre, I don't know, but I couldn't even dislike the villains, they were so monumentally flat. Oh well. For those of you who did enjoy it, I'm glad you did, but I won't be reading any more like this.


message 24: by Tina (new)

Tina | 143 comments I think this month's pick had some readers who enjoyed the tale while quite a few did not. I do plan on reading another title by this author that's been on my book shelf for a while -- "Beside A Burning Sea" -- Thanks for participating in the discussion!


message 25: by SarahKat (new)

SarahKat Hello everyone. I finished the book with 1 day to spare, so I figured I'd throw in my thoughts. I believe the only reason I got through this book is because I listened to it on audiobook while driving, playing video games, or was otherwise distracted. This may just be personal preference, but I found the majority of the book trudging and dull. There were a few events that transpired that caught and held my attention for a while before it fizzled out again. I did enjoy learning about the historical aspects of the book. I like the blurring of fact and fiction in historical fiction because I will look up certain events to see how close the book and actual history are. In the author's note he says there are certain details from that time that are not certain, so he takes some artistic license with those events and the characters. However, the emotions of the characters rarely touched me and that was the main point of this book. Perhaps I'm dead inside.


message 26: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 6 comments Tina wrote: "Evalani wrote: "What part are not historically accurate? Note: I think there is probably a lot of poetic licensing."

This poetic license is a great point to discuss. For books grounded in some his..."


The freedom of the women to roam around at will just didn't exist. If the author were more skilled, he could have come up with creative ways to make this work and tell a compelling story. I sort of think his "poetic license" does a disservice to the women of the court by implying that they had freedoms they simply didn't enjoy.


message 27: by Lori, Super Mod (new)

Lori (tnbbc) | 10013 comments Mod
Thanks so much, Tina, for hosting this discussion!


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