Author: Jaishree Mishra
Here is a book that lovers of historical fiction would devour and relish and demand second helpings of! Rani is the story of little Manikarnika, with stars in her eyes, who went on to become an unforgettable heroine in Indian history! Picking up a four hundred volume tome with minuscule print is a daunting prospect by itself… but once you get past this challenge, you are in for a treat in the form of a story etched beautifully in the background of the Sepoy Mutiny.
Mani grows up with her playmates Tantia and Nana in a shady haunt near Varanasi under the care of her doting father and a far sighted, indulgent Peshwa. The ground beneath her feet positively rumbles when, at a tender age, she becomes the second wife of Gangadhar, King of Jhansi, a man thrice her age.Playful, thirteen year old Mani parts from her father, family and friends and becomes Lakshmibai- Adopting a new name…Embracing a new life… Shedding her rash, energetic mannerisms.
Like a firmly planted line of dominoes, problems and obstacles stand tall in the way of her happiness, but this erstwhile young Rani knocks them down and wins a place in the hearts of all her subjects.A jealous brother in law…. unacceptable British laws… an ailing husband… a traumatic pregnancy…. and the premature death of her son… Over eight years and sparingly spent tears, she deals with them all with remarkable forbearance. A forbidden romance and the looming war are woven into the skeins of this poignant tale whose predictable ending still leaves you unsettled.
Add a dash of fact and a dollop of fiction… and marinate the ingredients in a sauce of delicious vocabulary and fine narration. Stir in the twists and turns, grate the finer details and spice it all up with drama. End Result: Rani, by Jaishree Mishra. A dish with several flavours that warms the heart.