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Beginning in 1852, the story of Laale, who is abducted from her home in Badakhshan and ends up as a courtesan in Delhi, during the tumultuous last days of the Mughal Empire.


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Beginning in 1852, the story of Laale, who is abducted from her home in Badakhshan and ends up as a courtesan in Delhi, during the tumultuous last days of the Mughal Empire.

42 review for The Mulberry Courtesan

  1. 4 out of 5

    Madhulika Liddle

    On 10th May 1857 there began in Meerut an uprising that was to change the course of Indian history. What the British called the Sepoy Mutiny and which we today refer to as the First War of Independence was the first large-scale attempt to oust the East India Company. It failed, crushed by a far more powerful enemy, but it left in its wake a changed India. An already crumbling Mughal Empire was finally destroyed, the last of the line, the poet-mystic Bahadur Shah ‘Zafar’ being exiled to Rangoon. On 10th May 1857 there began in Meerut an uprising that was to change the course of Indian history. What the British called the Sepoy Mutiny and which we today refer to as the First War of Independence was the first large-scale attempt to oust the East India Company. It failed, crushed by a far more powerful enemy, but it left in its wake a changed India. An already crumbling Mughal Empire was finally destroyed, the last of the line, the poet-mystic Bahadur Shah ‘Zafar’ being exiled to Rangoon. Control passed from John Company to the Crown, and the British began a systematic policy of dividing the country, of ensuring that the rebellion would not be repeated. Sikeena Karmali’s novel, The Mulberry Courtesan, reaches its climax during those turbulent days of the summer of 1857, and continues into its aftermath—up to the death of Bahadur Shah ‘Zafar’ in Rangoon in 1862—but the story itself begins much earlier: in early 1852. The story begins dramatically, with the heroine, Laale, a girl from a wealthy family in Badakhshan, being kidnapped by a sepoy who rapes her. Laale, displaying the feistiness and indomitable attitude that will mark her through much of the book, manages to kill her rapist. Disgraced beyond redemption, Laale cannot expect to be welcomed back into her family, and so she sets out to see what life will offer. Sold off to the Nawab of Jhajjar, she is gifted by him to the Mughal Emperor, and finds herself part of the zenana in the Red Fort. Laale’s journey from the relatively quiet, secluded environs of her native Badakhshan to the bustle and intrigue of the Mughal court, is written with passion, Laale’s evolution from beautiful but gauche girl to skilled courtesan interesting. Her relationships with famous personalities of Delhi—from Zafar himself to Begum Taj Mahal, from Captain Hodson to Mirza Ghalib—are of course all part of artistic license, but offer an entertaining ‘what-if’ insight into the last days of the Mughal court. The Mulberry Courtesan, given that Sikeena Karmali is also a poet (and both Zafar and Ghalib are important characters in the novel), has a good deal of poetry, much of it beautiful. The writing is evocative, bringing to life another era, another Delhi. The period relating to the events of 1857 is especially well-written. The characters are a mix of interesting and forgettable, but the central figures, Laale and Zafar, come through vividly: one old and powerless and drifting ever closer to inevitable doom, the other young, full of life, determined to go down fighting. The romance is a little hard to believe, and some characters, including Captain Hodson, come across as caricatures. The most jarring aspect of the novel, though, is the carelessness with which a good bit of it has been written and edited. Laale’s abduction and rape are set either in March 1852 or June: it’s unclear when. The marketplace where she is sold could be in Chitral or Amritsar: both are mentioned. Zafar’s lawyer could be Ghulam Ahmed or Ghulam Abbas. The anachronisms are embarrassing, with everything from zippers and hand grenades to harmoniums being used, and items—tea, newspapers—which were relatively unknown in the 1850s being supposedly in widespread use. Chinars may be large in Kashmir, never in Delhi; Lucknow to Delhi by horse carriage is unachievable in the space of a day; and Wajid Ali Shah did not die till 1887. Read The Mulberry Courtesan for its story and its poetry, not for its historical accuracy (or lack of it). (From my review for The New Indian Express: http://www.newindianexpress.com/lifes...)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Laiba

    Set in the backdrop of the uprising of 1857, it is the story of an Afghani girl,Laale, kidnapped from her own courtyard and sold to Bahadur Shah Zafar's court during the last days of the Mughal empire. It is a coming of age story. Laale,a fictional character is so well entwined among characters representing real people that I had to check my facts about the downfall of Mughal empire. The sub-plots are very well executed that not for once did I get confused. Conspiracy, politics, love and freedom Set in the backdrop of the uprising of 1857, it is the story of an Afghani girl,Laale, kidnapped from her own courtyard and sold to Bahadur Shah Zafar's court during the last days of the Mughal empire. It is a coming of age story. Laale,a fictional character is so well entwined among characters representing real people that I had to check my facts about the downfall of Mughal empire. The sub-plots are very well executed that not for once did I get confused. Conspiracy, politics, love and freedom are some of the plots of the book. The writing is smooth, and kept me hooked till the end. The experience of reading this book was no less than watching a historical fiction movie. The reason it wasn't a five star read for me is that right in the middle when the main plot was being executed, the pace slowed down a lot, and it took a while for it to pick up again. I can not stop talking about the way Karmali has executed the qawwali sessions and poetry in the book, while reading them I was transported to the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar. I would definitely recommend this book to all readers who like reading historical fiction especially Indian historical fiction, this book is one of it's kind. My Verdict : 4/5

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bookishbong Moumita

     The Mulberry Courtesan By Sikeena Karmali Genre - fiction Total Page- 259 Publishing house - Aleph Book Company About The Author : Sikeena Karmali Has written a book of poetry , Places to Remember , and a novel , A house by the sea , which has Shortlisted for the Amazon/ books in Canada best first novel Award . Her writing on muslim culture , human rights , gender and spirituality has appeared in academic Publications and her articles have been translated into French and Italian . She has served on t  The Mulberry Courtesan By Sikeena Karmali Genre - fiction Total Page- 259 Publishing house - Aleph Book Company About The Author : Sikeena Karmali Has written a book of poetry , Places to Remember , and a novel , A house by the sea , which has Shortlisted for the Amazon/ books in Canada best first novel Award . Her writing on muslim culture , human rights , gender and spirituality has appeared in academic Publications and her articles have been translated into French and Italian . She has served on the Canada Council for the Arts Peer jury for literature . About the book: This plot is a sketch of 1857 story is based on a young woman , Laale , from Afgan noble family ,who was first kidnaped by an Indian Sepoy of East Edison company . Then she was sold in many places and at the she finally reached to Delhi,the Red fort . In the court of Mughal Emperor she was a courtesan but her beauty both inside and out side , melt the heart of the Old emperor . Why you need to read this book 1. The writing style is admirable . The way the author has penned this story , it seems like a diary . 2. The author has nicely picturised the society of that time . 3. Every charecter has been picturised with lots of details that they feels like real . It's definately a unique book and no doubt I would like to give it 5/5 I would like to thanks the the Publishers for giving me a chance to review this book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Meenal

    In henna I have dyed my hands, When will he come? I die, while he roams distant lands, My heart is numb! O, where is now the day’s delight? I’ve waited long. The golden wine cups of the night To him belong! The ritual of love is sweet, Could I adorn My love with jewels, perfume his feet, Be no more torn, Anoint him with my fragrant kiss, Love, for your sake, The lotus of my heart in bliss Would block the lake! I absolutely loved reading this book, it’s a beautiful story, written more beautifully in a poetic and In henna I have dyed my hands, When will he come? I die, while he roams distant lands, My heart is numb! O, where is now the day’s delight? I’ve waited long. The golden wine cups of the night To him belong! The ritual of love is sweet, Could I adorn My love with jewels, perfume his feet, Be no more torn, Anoint him with my fragrant kiss, Love, for your sake, The lotus of my heart in bliss Would block the lake! I absolutely loved reading this book, it’s a beautiful story, written more beautifully in a poetic and enchanting way. Since I love reading Historical Fictions and Mughal History is my favourite, I had to read this book and it came out, much much more interesting and beautiful than I had thought. It’s the Story of Laale, a young and beautiful girl from Badakhshan in now Afghanistan, belonging from a respectable and wealthy family of Khan’s. She was going to get married with her lover in a fortnight but fate has planned something else, she got abducted and raped by a Soldier of East India Company and from there on her life Changed. This Story is set in those times when Mughal Empire was at it’s last and East India company was stronging it’s roots in India. Laale, escaping from clutches of Britishers she reached Lal quila. There she was befriended by a Begum for her own benefits, with motive to impress King of Hindustan, Bahadur Shah Zafar. For that she got trained in poetry by none other than Ghalib and later in Dance, Kathak to perform Mujra. Laale, was very different from everyone in zennana of Lal quila, She didn’t desire for throne, or to become a Begum, she just wanted to save her respect from those eagle eyes and Bahadur Shah Zafar was the only one who can do that. He’s an octogenarian, yet she falls for him than anyone else, it would have sounded disgusting but author portrayed it so beautifully that it didn’t. It’s very interesting, how she got named both in loving and sarcastic manners, from Laale Jaan to a slave; a nautch girl; a tawaif, a whore, Courtesan, Of course The Mulberry Courtesan and she finally became the Last Begum of Hindustan. It’s a must read book full of palace politics, historical changes, art, love, sacrifice, I will ask you to pick it today only. Thank you Author and Aleph Book Company for this review copy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sahil Pradhan

    Sikeena Karmali’s The Mulberry Courtesan is something which not only every history aficionado, but every Indian should have on his shelf to know how wrong and blasphemous their textbook histories are. The book very well charts at the beginning how glorious the Mughal Delhi of 1850s was under the poet-king 'murshid' Bahadur Shah Zafar, if not militarily and economically, but culturally and artistically. In The Mulberry Courtesan, Karmali discovers a world almost entirely unexplored by history, and Sikeena Karmali’s The Mulberry Courtesan is something which not only every history aficionado, but every Indian should have on his shelf to know how wrong and blasphemous their textbook histories are. The book very well charts at the beginning how glorious the Mughal Delhi of 1850s was under the poet-king 'murshid' Bahadur Shah Zafar, if not militarily and economically, but culturally and artistically. In The Mulberry Courtesan, Karmali discovers a world almost entirely unexplored by history, and places at its centre a compelling tale of love, seduction, betrayal and pathos. It possesses all the sweep and resonance of a great nineteenth-century novel, set against a background of shifting alliances and the manoeuvring of the great powers, the mercantile ambitions of the British and the imperial dreams of the rebels. The Mulberry Courtesan, the product of years of writing and research, triumphantly confirms Karmali’s reputation as one of the finest historical fiction writers at work today. Laale Badakshaan, an accomplished poetess and young dancer in the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar, lived through the cataclysmic 1857 Revolt that changed the course of history, marking the end of Mughal dominion and the instatement of the British Raj. Through her life, we see the Delhi, the gem in poetry and every other art form, we see how it shaped many artists and their lives, and we see why it was the city of love and how the Mughals furnised it and by the end of the tale we see how Delhi changed, died amidst violence and bloodshed in the name of God and nation. Tazkira Dehli-e-marhoom ka ae dost na chhed   Na suna jaayega hum se ye fasaana hargiz (Don’t talk to me of Late Lamented Delhi, my friend   I don’t have the heart to hear this story.) — Altaf Husain Hali Laale’s story not only chronicles the fading glory of the Mughal court and her entry into a vanishing way of life but also, most importantly, pivots on the horrifying spectacle of the Revolt and its aftermath-from the violent siege of Lucknow to the bloody reprisals that followed. We learn about the brutal murder of the British Resident and the ensuing deaths of the European men, women and children who were sheltering inside the Qila. We also glimpse the emperor’s pleas to the rebels and his helplessness as they took over the Qila. Moreover, Karmali crucially elaborates on the plight of those who managed to escape the slaughter and carnage. Laale's account is intensely vivid and moving, filled with incident and rich in insight. An immensely significant historical record of the Revolt as it unfolded, The Mulberry Courtesan is also a compelling personal account that conjures the dramatically changing world Laale lived in. It shows to you what Delhi was beyond the veils of East India Company’s monopoly and rule, how Ghalib, Hali, Delhvi and other jewels of poetry bethroned the court and how tawaiffs and other artisans perfected their arts amalgamating British and Indian art. The last Mughal emperor, Zafar, came to the throne when the political power of the Mughals was already in steep decline. Nonetheless, Zafar—a mystic, poet, and calligrapher of great accomplishment—created a court of unparalleled brilliance, and gave rise to perhaps the greatest literary renaissance in modern Indian history. All the while, the British were progressively taking over the Emperor’s power. When, in May 1857, Zafar was declared the leader of an uprising against the British, he was powerless to resist though he strongly suspected that the action was doomed. Four months later, the British took Delhi, the capital, with catastrophic results. With an unsurpassed understanding of British and Indian history, Dalrymple crafts a provocative, revelatory account of one the bloodiest upheavals in history. The shining and utterly magical history of the Mughals, I feel is known to all. The pages of the empire are too glorified with wealth, architectural wonders and “women”. From a long time, it has the tradition of the Mughal padshahs to maintain a huge and very decorated harem- as told in English- of women. Often have people misunderstood the meaning of the Urdu word zenana as the harem- a place where the concubines and orgies of the kings are kept. but this time, a novel provides a view into the zenana not as a place of sexual pleasure but as a place of political intelligence and precious pieces of advice of the Mughal women to the queen. A tale of how Laale again bloosomed love within the lost and octagenerian Zafar, of how Suhana fought with all to give Laale her safety after the Revolt, of how Zinat Mahal destroyed her own golden throne, in a dream of making another magnanimous one. Skillfully blending the textures of historical reality with the rich and sensual imaginings of a timeless fairy tale, The Mulberry Courtesan sweeps readers up in the emotional pageant of Zafar and Laale’s embattled love. First-time novelist Karmali charts her heroine’s enthralling journey through the years, from an ill-fated rape on the mountain, a past fulll of dust and slavery into a dangerous maze of power struggles and political machinations. Through it, all, Laale and Zafar long with fiery intensity for the true, redemptive love they’ve never known — and their mutual quest ultimately take them, and the empire that hangs in the balance, to places they never dreamed possible. Shot through with wonder and suspense, The Mulberry Courtesan is at once a fascinating portrait of one woman’s convention-defying life behind the veil and a transporting saga of the astonishing potency of love. Suraiya in her movie Mirza Ghalib sang a Ghalib ghazal which turned into a rockstar in that era, and I downloaded that in YouTube and often plug it in when I am into the Delhi atmosphere of Karmali and when I travel through the gullies where once Ghalib travelled, flourished, suffered and died. aah ko chahiye ek umar asar hone tak kaun jeeta hai tere zulf ke sar hone tak? Ghalib laments that it would take a lifetime of sighs of the lover to have an influence (or affect) on the heart of the beloved. Who knows who will live so long so see this fructify. Who will live so long to see your hairs properly arranged and your small nuances (curls of your hairs could mean the tangled/mysterious ways of your life) to get resolved. The poet says these small niceties/concerns of yours may take forever and who knows if I am alive to see you finally free and giving me the full attention that I deserve. Karmali too shows how happiness was short-lived in Delhi and how 1857 revolt destroyed both insiders and outsiders taking all into the abyss of destruction. It shows you how as love, happiness too faded away in the uprising. gham-e-hastee ka ‘Asad’ kis’se ho juz marg ilaaz shamma’a har rang mein jaltee hai sahar hone tak The endless suffering that we call as life, ‘Asad’ has no cure for it other than death. Death eventually would heal all the misery and struggle that existence carries. The candle burns all through the night to the very dawn, burning (suffering) through all the colors and then eventually die out. In the same way, existence would eventually fade out passing through all the shades of life. The candle is the metaphor for life that burns sometimes brightly sometimes flickering and ultimately gets extinguished. The story of The Mulberry Courtesan has the cadences of Greek tragedy, the carnage of a Jacobean revenge play and the ripe emotion of grand opera. With the storytelling skills that characterize historical novels, in this compelling narrative history, Karmali succeeds in putting a revealing human face on the infamous revolt.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Wanderingg__soul

    History has always been one of my favorite subjects since school. And learning about Mughal rule in India always fascinated me. Watching the movie ‘Jodha Akbar’ was one of the Prime reasons why I started spending more time in libraries reading about Mughal kings, their literature, their architecture and everything I could find about them. Mughal rule was known as the golden era in India’s history. And this book gives us an insight about how this golden era ended. ‘The Mulberry Courtesan’ is set ar History has always been one of my favorite subjects since school. And learning about Mughal rule in India always fascinated me. Watching the movie ‘Jodha Akbar’ was one of the Prime reasons why I started spending more time in libraries reading about Mughal kings, their literature, their architecture and everything I could find about them. Mughal rule was known as the golden era in India’s history. And this book gives us an insight about how this golden era ended. ‘The Mulberry Courtesan’ is set around 1850’s when the British were trying to acquire India. An epic tale of romance, courage, adventure and tragedy, this book rekindled my love for Mughal Literature and I am looking forward to read more of it this year. More about the book: In 1857, the shadows are falling thick and fast on what is left of the Mughal empire. The last emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, is a broken, bitter man in his eighties who has retreated into religion and poetry. Zafar’s empire extends no further than the precincts of his grand palace, the Red Fort in Delhi, but this hasn’t prevented numerous court intrigues and conspiracies from flourishing within the Lal Qila; these involve the emperor’s wives, children, courtiers, hangers-on and English functionaries among others. Flung into this poison pit is Laale, a young woman from an Afghan noble family, abducted from her home in the mountains and sold into the Mughal emperor’s court as a courtesan. Fiery, independent and beautiful, the ‘mulberry courtesan’ captures the ageing emperor’s heart, giving him hope and happiness in his last years. Told against the backdrop of India’s great revolt of 1857 and the last days of the Mughal empire, The Mulberry Courtesan is an epic tale of romance, tragedy, courage and adventure. Title & the Cover: Title and the cover of the book are gorgeous and very thoughtful. The beautiful intricate details on the cover of the book gives cozy yet royal vibes. Story & the Plot: The book is set in the period around 1852 to 1857 till the British captured the Mughal throne. The story is narrated by Laale, a beautiful and intelligent girl and a daughter of an Afghan noble businessman. She is abducted from her own house by an English soldier. This event Laale’s life turns upside down, hours ago a young woman who was dreaming of her upcoming marriage is now homeless and hungry. From being raped to being sold in a slave market, Laale finally enters the Mughal court as a courtesan. With her intelligence, beauty and an incorrect soul, she soon develops a spiritual connection with the Emperor himself. Bahadur Shah Zafar, a man in his eighties who has retreated to religion and poetry is now in love with Laale. The Emperor marries Laals in a secret ceremony and they soon have a son who is disguised as a daughter to protect the Mughal bloodline. The book is so beautifully written, the essence of romance, spiritualility and courage are heart wrenching. The minute details about the Mughal Court and the British capture the sheer beauty of that era. The narrations are beautiful. The poetry in the book adds to the charm of the story. Final Verdict If you ask me to define this book in one single line, I would say, “It’s a gem in the world of Literature.” Definitely a must read!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chitra Ahanthem

    The Mulberry Courtesan by Sikeena Karmali is set from 1852 onwards and focuses at length on the events and tumultuous times in British India during the 1857 revolt. It follows the story of Laale, a beautiful and intelligent girl who at 19 is set to marry her cousin. Fate intervenes and a Sepoy of the British East India Company abducts Laale in order to gift her to his English commanding officer. What follows in the life of Laale from this point on is the crux of the book: at times, Laale is just The Mulberry Courtesan by Sikeena Karmali is set from 1852 onwards and focuses at length on the events and tumultuous times in British India during the 1857 revolt. It follows the story of Laale, a beautiful and intelligent girl who at 19 is set to marry her cousin. Fate intervenes and a Sepoy of the British East India Company abducts Laale in order to gift her to his English commanding officer. What follows in the life of Laale from this point on is the crux of the book: at times, Laale is just carried away by the pull of events around her with no say or power in how she is being treated but at times, she comes to her own and holds her agency in shaping the course of her life. From being raped, to being sold in a slave market, to being taken in by the neglected and sidelined wife of the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar; Laale take things to her stride with an intelligence and purity of her soul that ultimately brings her face to face with the Emperor with whom she develops a deep spiritual and intellectual bond. The book is an engrossing read and the pace never settles down: I read it in a day. However, I am putting short of giving a 4 star to this book for I felt that the book was rushed in parts: I definitely wanted more of Laale’s thoughts and not just as reactions to people asking about her life or situation. Recommended for historical fiction lovers!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sayantani Roy

    The story follows the journey of Laale, a girl abducted from her own house in Badakhshan by a soldier. Stripped off her virginity, Laale refuses to go back to her parent's house. Later discovered by a Shepherd boy, Laale is sold at an auction market where The Nawab of Jhajjar wins her over Captain Hodson. The Nawab of Jhajjar, impressed by her overall personality, decides to gift her over to the then reigning Mughal Emperor of Hindustan, Bahadur Shah Zafar.Groomed by the first wife of Zafar for The story follows the journey of Laale, a girl abducted from her own house in Badakhshan by a soldier. Stripped off her virginity, Laale refuses to go back to her parent's house. Later discovered by a Shepherd boy, Laale is sold at an auction market where The Nawab of Jhajjar wins her over Captain Hodson. The Nawab of Jhajjar, impressed by her overall personality, decides to gift her over to the then reigning Mughal Emperor of Hindustan, Bahadur Shah Zafar.Groomed by the first wife of Zafar for her own benefits, Laale becomes the chief courtesan of the court. A relationship blossoms between Zafar and Laale, the foundation of which is love and mutual respect. The corrupting politics of the British with the help of Zafar's own wives and children however, has some other plans. Will Zafar's and Laale's relationship see a longer sun? Or fate has some tragic happening in store for them? Read on to find out. This book is written in a diary format. Some soulful poetry find it's way in between the chapters which makes the book way more appealing. The sepoy mutiny, 1857 constitutes an important part of the book. The narrative is simple yet strong. This book is an absolute delight to read. A masterpiece. ❤ My rating- 🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠/5

  9. 5 out of 5

    Read.Dream.Repeat.Blogger

    Mulberry Courtesan Sikeena Karmali Alephbook Co 2018. Pp – 270. An “epic tale of romance, tragedy, courage and adventure”. It’s 1850s. The British rule is spreading its realm and the Mughal power is fading away. In the backdrop of this social and political upheaval, is Laale, a young woman from an Afghan noble family, abducted from her home in the mountains and sold into the Mughal emperor’s court as a courtesan. Fiery, independent and beautiful, the ‘mulberry courtesan’ captures the ageing emperor’s Mulberry Courtesan Sikeena Karmali Alephbook Co 2018. Pp – 270. An “epic tale of romance, tragedy, courage and adventure”. It’s 1850s. The British rule is spreading its realm and the Mughal power is fading away. In the backdrop of this social and political upheaval, is Laale, a young woman from an Afghan noble family, abducted from her home in the mountains and sold into the Mughal emperor’s court as a courtesan. Fiery, independent and beautiful, the ‘mulberry courtesan’ captures the ageing emperor’s heart, giving him hope and happiness in his last years. A piece of fiction that fits quite well in the actual events of the time. Language, writing style, narration – everything at its best. A 4 on 5! #bookstagramindia #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #bookstagrammer #review #bookreview #readdreamrepeat #blogger #bookblogger #delhibookstagrammer #indianblogger #igreads #delhiblogger #unitedbookstagram #delhibookstagramfam #bookishfeatures #bookporn #booknerd #bookstagramfeature #newyear #newyearreads 58 down @htbrunch #htbrunchbookchallenge #BrunchBookChallenge #htbrunch

  10. 5 out of 5

    Saikat Baksi

    Unforgettable. I lived in the era of Bahadur Shah during the period I read it. History could not come more live than this drenched in tears, laughter and love.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Devangee Ganatra

  12. 5 out of 5

    Manali

  13. 4 out of 5

    neha

  14. 5 out of 5

    Isbah Khalid

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hera

  16. 5 out of 5

    Privy Trifles

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Taylor

  18. 4 out of 5

    Subhajit Das

  19. 5 out of 5

    Neha

  20. 5 out of 5

    Akshaj

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sohinee Reads & Reviews (Bookarlo)

    Read The Original Review Posted on Sohinee Reads & Reviews SIKEENA KARMALI CAPTURED THE MUGHAL ESSENCE SO WELL IN ‘THE MULBERRY COURTESAN ‘The Mulberry Courtesan’ is set around 1857 when the Mughal Empire is counting its last days of ruling the country. It’s the time when the East India Company had already invaded the country and was setting up it’s empire. It was during this time that India saw its first revolt against the Britishers. The book features Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last person of t Read The Original Review Posted on Sohinee Reads & Reviews SIKEENA KARMALI CAPTURED THE MUGHAL ESSENCE SO WELL IN ‘THE MULBERRY COURTESAN ‘The Mulberry Courtesan’ is set around 1857 when the Mughal Empire is counting its last days of ruling the country. It’s the time when the East India Company had already invaded the country and was setting up it’s empire. It was during this time that India saw its first revolt against the Britishers. The book features Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last person of the Mughal dynasty who is been exiled. It is somewhere between the 1852 to 1857 that the complete story takes place. At the heart of the storyline is a bold and brazen girl, Laale. Laale, a young 19-year-old who had her wedding planned out suddenly get abducted from her home by a British sepoy to be sold off to the Mughals. On the night of her abduction, she gets raped by the sepoy but she doesn’t let him live for long. Thus begins Laale’s journey where she begins to live a new life where she often times finds herself at a loss of control over her own choices but as she grows into a woman, she starts to own herself as a courtesan, from a naïve little girl to a brave woman. ‘The Mulberry Courtesan’ also gives us a glimpse into the life of Bahadur Shah Zafar, a weary old man who is closing on his expiration. The contrast between Zafar, old and weary; and Laale, young and vivacious, is beautifully presented in the narrative. There’s also a romance between the central characters. This epic tale is quite tragic. I loved reading about the characters. They were full of life and expressed themselves so well that I couldn’t stop myself from feeling along with them. Sikeena Karmali has a very engaging, lyrical style of writing which I loved. It was like poetry written as prose. The descriptions of the Mughal empire with all its glitters and glam and the majestic forts that hides so much in them, Sikeena Karmali has captured the Mughal essence with her writing. I loved the writing and the story but when it comes to the historical timelines, that wasn’t very clear to me. At times I felt that there weren’t the need of certain characters and that they didn’t have anything to add to the storyline. There were a few glitches here and there but nothing that a round of editing cannot fix! The historical timelines might not be perfect but the narrative is beautiful. Loved the story and the characters. For more review and bookish posts, subscribe to my blog www.poesyinchrysalis.wordpress.com. For review enquiries and collaborations, write to me at [email protected] Read it if you like historical fiction.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tehmina Khan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shumaila Taher

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ramya Jeyaraman

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kiran Kaur

  27. 4 out of 5

    Riddhi's Bookworld

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kk

  29. 4 out of 5

    Angelia

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gaurav Pandey

  31. 4 out of 5

    Priyam Sethi

  32. 4 out of 5

    so

  33. 5 out of 5

    h

  34. 5 out of 5

    Annabel Fielding

  35. 5 out of 5

    Sudeshna Poddar

  36. 4 out of 5

    Nutan

  37. 5 out of 5

    Tarun

  38. 4 out of 5

    Lara Maynard

  39. 5 out of 5

    Junaid Taj

  40. 4 out of 5

    Fatima

  41. 4 out of 5

    Roshan Shah

  42. 4 out of 5

    Vikas Kuswaha

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