Thoughts on Reading White Mughals

This book certainly falls in my "Spell Binders" category

Note: ‘White Mughals’ by William Dalrymple is an excellent read about cross-cultural marriage in 18th Century India and the relationship of the British with Indians. The main focus of the book is on the conversion of a British representative to Islam, in order to marry the girl he loves, and about his Anglo-Indian family.

“Never judge a book by it’s cover” as the saying goes but one always gets drawn intuitively to a cover simply by the book title or a wistful picture.

Book cover designers must know how to pull a reader – sucker – like me. That’s how I picked up White Mughals by William Dalrymple from the Council Library. The story behind the innocent eyes of a young Indian princess, bedecked in strings of pearls, calling out to be revealed with an intriguing sentence promising a good read – “Love & Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India“.

M. M. Kaye wrote a similar romance in The Far Pavilions, later was made in to a Hollywood movie, which simply took my breath away as a 15-year-old, now more than 15 years later, reading Dalrymple’s non-fiction version of a real romance is like reading a history book without the colourful romantic language of M. M. Kaye. Hats off to him though for the painstaking research.

Nonetheless, I am transported to another time, imagining an East West love story, the travails of the human heart with political consequences that threatened even the British Raj.

Back to discovering more about a story that would never have been mentioned in any history text-book either in the U.K. or India.

This book certainly falls in my “Spell Binders” category.

And, in the meantime, will wait for the movie!  Imagine, Ralph Feinnes as the hero and Angelina Jolie as the heroine in the Hollywood version or Akshay Khanna and Rani Mukerji in the Bollywood version … would you have any other combinations?!?

(c) Ritu 2003

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