“My hands touch the marble and I feel Isa. He is here. Mother sits with him as do Dara and Father…. Their mood is gay and they’re as young as the seasons.” -Beneath a Marble Sky (p. 344)
One of the greatest wonders the human race has ever built is the Taj Mahal. Its breathtaking beauty and majesty can inspire poets and and make even the most skeptical person believe magic exists. It was created by Shah Jaha, a Mughal emperor, in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. But even though something beautiful was created, it was a time of sorrow. For not only was the beloved empress dead, but a war was being fought between her sons, Dara and Aurangzeb.
John Shors writes with poetic elegance as he describes his interpretation of the war between siblings.
Dara was the peaceful brother. He’d rather spend his time studying Hindu and Muslim religion than warring and negotiating politics. He hoped that someday the Hindus and Muslims could live in peace with no religious tension. He’s well-humored and dotes upon his younger sister, Jahanara.
Aurangzeb, on the other hand, hates Hindus to the point that he won’t even kill them in war because they’re not good enough for his sword point. Not only that, but he’s sexist, and thinks Jahanara is worthless because she’s a girl. When he was only twelve he watched his sister almost drown with a smile on his face.
Shors describes Jahanara’s life from when she is thirteen years old to when she’s an old woman as she plots and schemes with Dara and her father to defeat Aurangzeb and insure Dara’s place on the throne, all the while dealing with an abusive husband, her mother’s death, her forbidden love with the chief architect of the Taj Mahal, captivity, and several attempted murders.
Beneath a Marble Sky is a good read for anyone looking for a classic love story that deals with family hardships and religious tension.
You can find it here: http://www.indiebound.org/book/