- € 9,49
In Maharnis Lucy Moore brilliantly recreates the lives of four princesses - two grandmothers, a mother and a daughter - of the Royal courts of India. Their extraordinary story takes in tiger hunts, exotic palaces and lavish ceremonies in India, as well as the glamorous international scene of the Edwardian and interwar era. It is also an intimate portrait of four remarkable women - Chimnabai, Sunity, Indira and Ayesha - who changed the world they lived in. Through their lives Lucy Moore tells the history of a nation during an era of great change: the rise and fall of the Raj from the Indian Mutiny to Independence and beyond.
Drawing on accounts from the waning days of the Raj and the British Empire to the present, Moore (The Thieves' Opera) brings exhaustive research to bear on the stories of four Indian queens who used their power to help forge social change. Her fly-on-the-wall approach gives their triumphs and struggles immediacy. Refined Chimnabai began her marriage to the maharaja of the northern city of Baroda in purdah, which kept married women hidden from men other than their husbands, but after breaking purdah in 1913, she became a champion of women's rights. Sunity Devi, maharani of Cooch Behar (near what is now Bangladesh), forged a close friendship with Queen Victoria and wrote books on India's history for British audiences. Chimnabai's gorgeous daughter, Indira, rejected her arranged alliance in order to marry Sunity's son, and later ruled in her late husband's place as regent of state. Indira's daughter Ayesha defied her parents' wishes so she could become the third wife of the man she loved and was elected to India's parliament in a 1962 landslide. Today, she breeds polo ponies, works on conservationist campaigns and serves on the boards of schools she founded. "In their different ways," Moore writes, "they were icons, modernizers and revolutionaries... inspiring a redefinition of the role of women in modern India." The book's rich details make up for its sometimes stiff prose, as Moore explores everything from the women's elaborate fashions silk chiffon saris, magnificent jewels and spangled veils to the politics and strict traditions of India's aristocracy.