Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Dancer and the Raja

Javier Moro

A fascinating novel that transports us to the fabulous world of the maharajas, abundant with harems, bacchanalian orgies, jewels, palaces, flamenco music, horses, Rolls Royce cars, and tiger hunting

On January 28th, 1908, a young Spanish woman sitting astride a luxuriously bejeweled elephant enters a small city in northern India. The streets are packed with curious locals, anxious to pay homage to their new princess with skin as white as the snows of the Himalayas. This is the beginning of the story, based on real events, of the wedding of Anita Delgado and the wealthy maharaja of Kapurthala, a grand story of love and betrayal that took place during almost two decades in the heart of an India that was on the verge of disappearing(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Ever since reading M.M. Kaye’s The Far Pavilions, I’ve pretty much been a sucker for books set in the time of British held India. For some reason, this place and time period just fascinates me.

In The Dancer and the Raja, Mr. Muro provides us with his interpretation of the life of Anita Delgado. Anita is a young 17 year old Spanish dancer when she catches the eye of the maharaja of Kapurthala. Her family is poor, the Raj offers an incredible monetary sum to marry Anita and this is seen as a huge opportunity for Anita to have a better life.

As a Spaniard married to a prince from India, Anita is never accepted by the the British who rule India, or by the Raja’s family. The prince’s other wives see her as a threat. The British feel that a European women should have never lowered her standards to marry someone from India. What was supposed to be an ideal life for Anita ultimately turns into one of loneliness and rejection.

I found this book mesmerizing. Javier Moro write with such rich description of India in the early 1900s. I learned a great deal about the history of India through this story. This was one of those books that as soon as I read the last page, I wanted to reread it all over again. It was that magical.

I truly want to thank Open Road Publishing, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this delightful book in exchange for an unbiased review.

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