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Gulbadan by Rumer Godden
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Gulbadan

by Rumer Godden

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A quick read, and unlike the other Rumer Godden books I've read; this one is non-fiction. Tells the story of Gulbadan Begum ("Rosebody Princess"), the daughter of Babur (the first Moghul emperor) who watched the empire evolve over three generations from a front row seat in the Mogul court harem. She lived to be 80, and recorded history for the Akbar-nama (emperor Akbar's biography).

Rumer Godden tells the story of the then-little-known princess in a plain, linear manner, punctuated by relevant full colour prints of miniature paintings from the time. The source material Godden uses & quotes - the Babur-nama, the Akbar-nama, other historical accounts, and Gulbadan's own writings - are not new, but the focus of the book is unique: it is strictly concerned with Gulbadan's life, and tells very little of the surrounding & successive events. Considering the limitedly references Godden had to work with, the end result is an illuminating - albeit not intimately revealing - 'portrait' of an important yet overlooked character of the moghal courts. What gaps there are in the narrative, Rumer Godden supplies with her own inferences and imagination of what 'might have been' or 'probably' occurred. The effect is that the book reads like an admiring, almost dreamy, account of some obscure figure from history. Rumer Godden honouring another nearly forgotten female writer. . . ( )
  allisonneke | Dec 17, 2013 |
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