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Beneath a Marble Sky: A Love Story Paperback – 6 Jun 2006

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Product details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: New American Library; Reprint edition (6 Jun. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451218469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451218469
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2.1 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,059,118 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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In 1632, the Emperor of Hindustan, Shah Jahan, consumed by grief over the death of his empress, Mumtaz Mahal, ordered the building of a grand mausoleum to symbolize the greatness of their love. Against scenes of unimaginable wealth and power, murderous sibling rivalries, and cruel despotism, Princess Jahanara tells the extraordinary story of how the Taj Mahal came to be, describing her own life as an agent in its creation and as a witness to the fateful events surrounding its completion. To escape a brutal arranged marriage, Jahanara must become the court liaison to Isa, architect of the Taj Mahal. She is soon caught between her duty to her mother's memory, the rigid strictures imposed upon women, and a new, though forbidden, love. With exceptional courage, Jahanara dares to challenge the bigotry and blindness at court in an effort to spare the empire from civil war, and to save her father from his bellicose son, Aurangzeb, a man whose hatred would extinguish the Islamic enlightenment from the Mughal Empire.

To do so, she must enlist her Hindu friend, Ladli, and her guardian, Nizam, as spies, and urge her brother Dara, the designated heir to the throne, down from the ivory tower of his philosophical inquiries. The stakes become ever greater when Jahanara must deceive her husband as to the true father of her child, and must protect those closest to her from her enemies' retaliation. As a princess and a mother, as a sister and a daughter, Jahanara will find herself faced time and again with impossible choices, and will discover the real meaning of her regal birthright. In "Beneath a Marble Sky", John Shors re-creates an historical Hindustan brimming with breathtaking intrigue and containing the secret truth of the Taj Mahal for a world still in awe of its enduring majesty. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Walsh on 15 July 2004
Format: Hardcover
John Shors has written a fascintating story of the people involved in the creation of the Taj Mahal. With a sure and enjoyable sense of time and place, he lays out the exploits and adventures of generations of rulers and the people they ruled. running throughout the narrative are various timely themes about the integration of people of different ethnicities within a single state, intolerance and the roles and responsibility of the ruler.
This is a very good novel and particularly impressive from a first time author. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or who might have an interest in the past of the Indian sub-continent. It deserves to be better known.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on 13 Jun. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Before I say anything else my strong recommendation is to resist the impulse to look at any history of the building of the Taj Mahal. I made the mistake of going on line to find some pictures of the Taj Mahal once I got to the point in John Shors' "Beneath a Marble Sky" where the grand mausoleum had been completed and instead of stopping at the photographs I glanced at what was known about the historical figures at the center of the novel and it gave away a major development. So do as I say and not as I do. Afterwards you can find the true events that weave their way through this exquisite first novel.
All that really matters when you pick up this novel is that you have seen a picture of the Taj Mahal (it is not like there is a bad one). It does not matter whether or not you know that it is a mausoleum or that it honors the Mughal Empress Mumtaz Mahal, because what is important is that if you have seen it you know the Taj Michael is one of the most beautiful buildings on the planet, a sublime mix of architectural magnificence and aesthetic beauty, and this historical romance is about how it came to be built. When the Taj Mahal is a tomb, then the great pyramids of Giza are reduced to just being piles of big blocks.
The narrator of "Beneath a Marble Sky" is Jahanara, the daughter of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and because Jahanara his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who tells her story and that of her family to her granddaughters, who are visiting the Taj Mahal for the first time. The tale begins when she was thirteen and beginning to appreciate how difficult it is to be a woman in a man's world. It seems she will be a spectator to both the great love between her parents and the contention between two of her brothers for her father's throne.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 22 Sept. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Seventeenth century Hindustan with all its magnificence and cruelty comes radiantly alive in this dual love story which begins with the famed romance of Khurram, later Shah Jahangir, and Arjumand, later known as Mumtaz Mahal. Her death in childbirth, after bearing over a dozen children, left Jahangir devastated-and determined to create a monument of such splendor that it would forever honor her memory, the Taj Mahal.
Narrating the love story of Shah Jahangir and Arjumand and the building of the Taj Mahal, a project which required twenty-two thousand men working for eleven years, is their daughter, Jahanara, now a grandmother and widow. As the book opens, she has brought her granddaughters to Agra to learn their heritage as the great-grandchildren of Shah Jahangir. She cautions the girls that Alamgir, her brother, the current Mughul emperor, will kill them if he knows that they are her grandchildren, especially if he knows that they have a younger brother who may someday claim the Peacock Throne.
Jahanara begins her tale as a young girl--her father's favorite child--and the narrative fills with colorful details of life in and around the Red Fort, where the royal family resides. When her mother dies and her father decides to honor her by building a huge monument, he asks seventeen-year-old Jahanara to supervise the building of the Taj Mahal. She soon finds herself drawn to Ustad Isa, the architect, toward whom she knows she must not betray even a flicker of interest, since she is married. The period comes alive with its pageantry, misery, bloody wars, and internecine struggles. Wartime battles alternate with battles for the throne, and Jahanara and Isa battle to sustain their love.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By wilson mbao on 22 May 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As the author rightly says when you open the first page of this book, "It is a work of fiction". Hence the three stars. I was looking for a book much closer to historical facts. That it is written by someone totally unfamiliar with the true culture and traditions of muslim culture are borne out by the way the culture is depicted. It is very Westernized and is written to please Western readers with a bit of sex thrown in. History does not mention that Jahanara was ever married to anyone or had a relationship with the Architect of the Taj Mahal. There were rules pertaining to marriages of Royal Princesses at the time which made it all impossible.

A bit more research into the history of this famous lady would have made this much more interesting reading.

As the writer says "A work of fiction".

I prefer fiction and historical novels to be kept apart. The title is misleading, I purchased it on the assumption that it was a historical novel. Had I known the names of the people concerned with creating one of the world's greatest wonders have been used in fiction, I would not have purchased this.
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