From a Maratha prince who parodied caste to a Muslim deity in a Hindu temple; from a courtesan who became a warrior princess to another who sang for the gramophone; from a woman with no breasts to a goddess with three; and from an Englishman who venerated sacred Sanskrit to imperious Victoria Maharani—the essays in this collection open a window into India’s past, and to a world of such astonishing richness that it is surprising how much of it has been forgotten or expunged.
To dip into these essays is to be absorbed in India’s story and reflect on the experiences of men and women whose lives were full of drama and action. We discover the advent of the railways, just as we learn about the history of Indian football; we hear of the hated Lord Curzon’s love of India’s monuments, even as we unravel the story of the photographer who was Jaipur’s maharajah. In the hands of a consummate historian and storyteller, these men and women speak also of the concerns and perspectives of the present, showing us what was, and what might have been.
An exhilarating journey with the author of The Ivory Throne and Rebel Sultans, The Courtesan, the Mahatma & the Italian Brahmin is a retelling of history no reader will want to miss.