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A Princess Remembers: Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur Paperback – Illustrated, 1 Mar 1995
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A must read for all people. The book changed my view of Royalty. The current breed of politicians had made me believe that everyone in power is spoilt. This book changed that view of mine. I had been to Jaipur recently, there the way the guides talked of the royal family, made me realize that the book is actually true, especially the feelings of the people towards royalty. Don't worry. The book is not all about their grand life. Only the first half of the book covers life before Independence. The second half, is a chronicle of how we withered away our "Tryst with destiny". As you read the book talking about the 50's and 60's you might as well copy the text into tomorrow's newspaper and it would be a perfect fit. Makes you wonder how little has changed, in many aspects, in India over the last 60 years. I always wanted to find out what happens next! Even though it is not at all a thriller. Also gives you a glimpse into a India that we don't know. The one behind the purdah. --Akshay Kini Feb 20, 2013
The beauty of the book is the simple writting which touches your heart. You feel sad and also proud of this incredible women. Its a great way to know the thought processes of the princly states during the post independence era.... and you will end up feeling sorry for her late husband who it seems was backstabbed at every step by the new government at the centre. --Devina Awasthi Sep 23, 2013
I wonder, why I didn't read this book earlier, an account of one of the most formidable and greatest woman in the world. A must read for every Indian. --Ananya Roy Aug 26, 2014
About the Author
Gayatri Devi also known as Rajmata of Jaipur was born as Princess Gayatri Devi of Cooch Behar. She was the third Maharani of Jaipur through her marriage to HH Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II. She joined Indian politics post-independence and became an extremely successful politician. She is well-known for her classical beauty and was considered a fashion icon. She was also counted in The Ten Most Beautiful Women of the World by Vogue Magazine. She died on July 29, 2009 in Jaipur, at the age of 90.
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I recommend this memoir for its courageous woman on woman battle in India - the largest democracy on earth - with discomfiting examples of the ‘diplomatic’ tool of choice – the cut – the slight.
We are riding elephants chasing tigers led by a young girl who shot her first panther aged 12.
Driving a magnificent wedding gift of a black Bentley this daughter of Cooch Behar and Baroda royalty will embrace ‘purdah’ and need to command all the religious devotions of orthodox Hindu’s as third wife of the Maharajah of Jaipur. Not for her the Zenada as ‘third her highness,’ the young Gayatri emerges from the long shadow of her husband’s polo fame and her mother’s irresistible social dynamic to wrestle with Indira Gandhi over every Indian prince’s privy purse.
In her 400 page autobiography; dealing with the years up to 1995 with a 6 page index, Ayesha – Gayatri Devi born May 23, 1919 provides us with a key to her accommodation first in Cooch – Behar and then at the Rambagh Palace in Jaipur interrupted with a brief stay (156 nights) in prison before she tackles Indira Gandhi and arrives at her final residence at Lilypool in Jaipur. A tragedy unfolds, nearly everything will be lost in her struggle against injustice - we learn about the slights, the cuts: George V 1911 Durbar in Delhi, the Abbey pillar at the 12 May 1937 George VI coronation in London obstructing the view for two of the most beautiful women in the world, the Duke of Edinburgh’s 1970 letter of condolence, the Michael Foot 1975 support of Indira Gandhi’s lawlessness.
My arc of sympathy for the author peaked with her hunting and sporting prowess, her love for the elephants and the pilkhanna, her time in Europe with the ‘Monkey Club,’ then plummeted as evidence of her youthful inexperience mounted; her early dependence on her mother’s fashion sense and her own forgetfulness towards ‘Mickey’ – how do you forget a sister in laws wedding gift? And then she appears to be just a straw politician following the international polo season instead of facing challenges at home with her constituents. The injustices of the Indira Gandhi regime brought me back on side as did her rekindled awareness of pressing social issues and her recourse to founding and promoting benevolent and educational charities in Jaipur.
RATING: Prose 7, Research value 10, Humour 6, Essential Photos 9.
Great cultural changes take place during the decades the book covers. One thing mentioned is the custom of segregating men and women, which the author has a unique and sometimes even positive viewpoint on, although she doesn't entirely agree with the custom. She also writes about her polygamous marriage and the other wives, with a viewpoint that is entirely foreign to westerners and thus interesting to read about.
The photos on a Kindle are too small, but still interesting.
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