"[Mehrunnisa’s] name and accomplishments were largely unknown in the Western
world until…Indu Sundaresan, in her impressive first novel, “The
Twentieth Wife,” wrote of Mehrunnisa’s childhood and first marriage…Now,
she carries the story forward in her sequel, “The Feast of Roses,”
which relates the Byzantine politics and intrigues of the royal harem. Sundaresan
weaves a seamless story, integrating solid research about the political affairs
of the Mughal kingdom into the fictionalized account…so skillfully that she brings
an easy sense of familiarity to Mughal court life."
—The Seattle Times
"The narrative alternates between seductive langour and racy action which capture
the opulence and drama of the Mughal kings. Sundaresan delightfully combines
history and juicy gossip..."
"As the sequel to “The Twentieth Wife,” the second
novel by…Indu Sundaresan continues the story of Mehrunnisa…an ambitious heroine
poised to become the most powerful woman in 17th-century India, known to history
as Empress Nur Jahan. “The Feast of Roses” lushly
chronicles the love affair…and the endless battles with rivals in the imperial harem
and court ministers who want to undermine Mehrunnisa’s hard-won status."
—The Sunday Oregonian
"Broadly sticking to historical facts, Sundaresan has woven a fascinating and
an engrossing fiction, revolving around the protagonist – Mehrunnisa, who
defies all norms by refusing to be confined to the duties of an Empress and dares
to re-define her role as a decision-maker."
—Free Press Journal (Mumbai, India)
"Sundaresan has brought Nur Jahan back to vivid life in
The Feast of Roses, creating of the surviving records a political and
romantic heroine of beauty, intelligence, strength, and humor…Also wonderful is
the narrative, filled as it is with luxurious descriptions of gorgeous…places and
things…Reading this narrative, you’re there, living the fantasy that life must have
been in the Court of Jahangir and Nur Jahan…The Feast of Roses
is even better than The Twentieth Wife—and that book
was a hard act to beat…The Feast of Roses is damned
close to a perfect historical novel."
"Set against a fascinating backdrop...This intricate canvas comes to life in
Indu Sundaresan's quietly casual, yet vividly descriptive prose...So also the vivid
descriptions of food...of clothes and jewels. The action is panoramic...The
episode of the royal hunt and the chess game for instance are cameos in themselves
yet have a marvelous fluidity and fit in terms of their contribution to the story
both in terms of what actually happens and the atmosphere they create. What
makes the book even more compelling is that so much of what happens is historically
—Deccan Herald (India)
"In The Feast of Roses…[Sundaresan] continues
the second half of the empress’ life—and peppers it beautifully with her rich and
well-informed vision of 17th-century Mughal India…At the heart of [The
Feast of] Roses is the real-life, real
love story of Jahangir and Nur Jahan, but this novel is more than a historical romance…Densely
packed with historical detail and the florid descriptions of its era, [The
Feast of] Roses moves with relative speed
through the days of this remarkable woman. Sundaresan logged plenty of hours researching
these two volumes…the results…are always entertaining.."
"...in The Feast of Roses...several passages
are nearly sublime. Whether one wants to see this as an historical romance
or a political and feminist statement is up to the reader. What Sundaresan
gives us in these two novels, however, is a fascinating story and a worthwhile examination
of this...empire that is practically unknown to most Americans. I, for one,
hope Sundaresan has much more to tell us about India."
"...The Feast of Roses never loses its fascination
and awareness of history. The research is meticulous, but more than that,
the author humanizes her characters, bringing them vividly to life against the turmoil
of a divided court...This novel portrays a common woman who captures the heart and
mind of an emperor, selected as his most beloved and favored wife and thereby changing
the face of history...The author has given her protagonist a real presence..."
"An excellent read and a wonderful love story."
—Book Review Cafe
"The novel’s scope and ambition are impressive, as are the numerous period
details and descriptions of the various cultural ceremonies that distinguish court
life in royal India…Sundaresan delves into…many palace intrigues…The book’s setting
brings to life an underexplored period in fiction…and readers who enjoyed the first
volume will find similar pleasures tracking the fate of one of history’s most intriguing
"Backstabbing and open struggles for power may be the stuff of politics today,
but author Indu Sundaresan shows us that such things were just as rampant in the
Indian Mogul court nearly 400 years ago...The Feast of Roses—with
its vivid imagery of flowing gardens, dazzling jewels and perfumed halls—would
be the perfect vehicle for a movie..."
—India New England News
"What do you do when you’re an outspoken woman…Mehrunnisa, eclipsed by her
famous niece…Arjumand, for whom the Taj Mahal was built, plots court intrigue, demolishes
her female rivals, arranges marriages…However complex, Mehrunnisa is a bold, strong,
daring character who holds our attention. Add the sweep and grandeur of this lyrically-written
story, and this is a must-read for history buffs and would-be powerful consorts."
"The Feast of Roses is a continuation of the
fascinating story of Emperor Jahangir and his 20th and last wife, Mehrunnisa; at
the same time, it is the story of her strength and intelligence, her struggles and
limitations within a traditional harem society, and her power and cunning in the
face of her adversaries within the empire….Sundaresan’s imaginative storytelling
allows readers to enter a world of juxtaposition between Mehrunnisa’s obligations
and her desires…this story consists of all the elements that make an enthralling
"[The Feast of Roses] is a tale of love and betrayal
and of the greed and jealously that ensues within the royal court in all its pageantry.
Sundaresan’s love of storytelling is apparent….She makes sure that the reader stays
enthralled from chapter to chapter and, with this sequel, will surely do the same
in creating anticipation for her next book."
"Sundaresan...weaves a rich tapestry of textures and colors into the intriguing
times of the Mughal Empire (1526-1858) in India. Lush details fulfill one's
appetite for the vividness of that bygone era."
"Weaving another rich historical tapestry, Sundaresan offers a sequel to her
first novel…and [The Feast of Roses] is based on the
ascent of the exotic Mehrunnisa to the status of wife in the court of seventeenth-century
emperor Jahangir of India…Sundaresan colors the life of a fascinating woman…"
"…Sundaresan lavishes the pages with wonderfully descriptive scenes full of
historical tidbits lushly portrayed across the tapestry of 17th century India. Her
characters come alive with an élan that shines brightly against the sweep of her
presentation…Sundaresan’s multi-hued canvas…[is] a studied attention to detail,
most notably hunting expeditions (from atop elephants), opulent feasts and festivals,
the myriad movements of the royal court…, and the portrayals of the competition
between the English and Portuguese for control of the vast East Asian trading markets."
—Cannon Beach Gazette
"…from start to finish, Feast of Roses is a compelling
read—and a fascinating historical retelling of the life of a woman mostly obscured
from the pages of traditional histories."
"…The Feast of Roses is the sumptuous sequel
to Indu Sundaresan’s debut novel, The Twentieth Wife, and opens a shining portal
into seventeenth century India…Sundaresan’s epic retelling of Mehrunnisa’s successes
and failures…is a feast for the senses…The Feast of Roses
will fascinate readers…who fancy lush, descriptive and strikingly lavish storytelling
with a strong factual base."
"Indu Sundaresan has managed to continue the second part of Mehe-runnisa’s
story in this historical fiction with the same skill for capturing details of Empress
Nur Jahan’s life…The actual Feast of Roses has been very well described and stands
as the Taj Mahal for Nur Jahan…This book is indeed a feast for all book lovers and
especially for those who enjoy historical fiction."
"The strength of this series [The Feast of Roses]
lies in its description of the imperial context, of luxurious surroundings and sumptuous
feasts, and of life in northern India…In The Feast of Roses,
Indu Sundaresan displays for us another rich tapestry of Mughal history…lush in
"The sequel to the delightful The Twentieth Wife, The Feast
of Roses is an insightful look at the royal court of seventeenth century
India…the story line is loaded with historical titbits leading readers…magically
back in time. Mehrunnisa is a strong lead protagonist, who quickly understands the
balance of power and how to manipulate in a Machiavellian manner…Ms. Sundaresan
provides another Taj Mahal historical fiction."
"[In The Feast of Roses] complex prose and content
blend with history and romance to create a beautiful tale based on factual events.
I loved this book and recommend it to anyone who loves history!"