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by Gita Mehta
"In the story of Princess Jaya of Balmer Gita Mehta offers a panoramic view of the pain and pageantry attending the demise of royal India. Raised traditionally, Jaya is also schooled to follow modern politics as the royal houses of India, struggling for autonomy within the British Empire, are drawn into global affairs. After her brother dies fighting at Aleppo and her father is poisoned, Jaya is wed to a prince of another kingdom, who forsakes her for an extravagant life in England and Europe. She bears a son, whom she raises to be Maharajah, but in the paroxysm of the nationalist movement and the bloodshed between Hindus and Muslims, both son and husband are doomed. As Maharani, Jaya signs the Instrument of Accession in 1950; as an individual, she stands for election, hoping to carry out the mission of leadership to which she was born. Grounded in details of ancient royal tradition and Hindu ritual, Jaya's story counterpoints a vanished way of life against the complex political realities involved in the passing of the Raj and the birth of the modern nations of India and Pakistan."
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