As the months passed, thousands of slabs of marble were inlaid with semiprecious stones, set against structural bricks, and plastered into place. Elephants died, men succumbed to fever, and barges laden with supplies sank in storms. Despite these tragedies the mausoleum continued to rise. By now it was about half its intended height, and tales of its beauty spread throughout the Empire. Travelers - whether visiting nobles or pilgrims on their way to Mecca - always stopped to gaze at the Taj Mahal. Sometimes they even helped for a few days. In such cases, men left strangely content, as if awash in the knowledge that their hands had contributed, however slightly, to the creation of a legend. ~ Beneath a Marble Sky, page 176 ~
Princess Jahanara, the courageous daughter of the emperor and his wife, tells their mesmerizing tale, while sharing her own parallel story of forbidden love with the celebrated architect of the Taj Mahal. Set during a time of unimaginable wealth and power, murderous sibling rivalries, and cruel despotism, this impressive novel sweeps you away to a historical Hindustan brimming with with action and intrigue in an era when, alongside the brutalities of war and oppression, architecture and the art of love and passion reached a pinnacle of perfection.
I loved this book. It was moving and magical. The author writes wonderful descriptions of the time without going overboard and dragging down the story. I felt like I was right there beside Jahanara as she lived her life. I could smell the spices, see the Red Fort, the harem, the bazaars. I watched the Taj Mahal being built, 22 years in the making. I could see the sun set behind it and the moon rise above it. I was captured and taken on a wonderfully touching, sometimes heart breaking ride. I originally picked up the book because of the story behind the Taj Mahal: the love of a man for his wife. This book so much more and if I never get to visit, in person, at least I've been there and visited for a brief time through Beneath a Marble Sky. I highly recommend this book for lovers of historical fiction and those who enjoy moving love stories.