Enlightening!

Rebel Queen: A Novel - Michelle Moran

This is the story of Rani Lakshmi the queen of Jhansi told through the eyes of one of her warrior guard-women, Sita. Rani ruled the kingdom of Jhansi until the British East India Company annexed its territories in 1853 after a brutal and bloody war.

 

I do not know much about India's history, and know little about their customs and culture except for what you see on TV or the tidbits you read about in other books, so I was instantly drawn into this tale about one of the country's most important females and her role in history. I loved learning about their culture and way of life though I have to say the caste system is a harsh subject to read about and one of the customs called "purdah", or the seclusion of women from public viewing, I found extremely sad.

 

The story is told through Sita, who lives in a small village with her father, sister and cruel grandmother. As one of two girls in the family with no dowry to offer a prospective husband, the grandmother almost sells Sita to a prostitute temple but is saved by her father who decides to train her to become a Durgavasi, a member of an elite group of females who guard and protect the rani, of which there are only ten at any one time. From here, you will have to read the book to find out what happens because I do not want to give too much away.

 

Suffice it to say, I found the book hard to put down and would definitely recommend it,

especially for all historical fiction fans

 

 

Portrait of Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi, (1850s or 1860s). Probably done after her death (June 1858): she wears a valuable pearl necklace and a cavalry woman's uniform.