Book Review: The Last Queen by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Hello Everyone! 

I would like to share some happy news before diving into my review of this wonderful book!

This is my 500th Post on the blog and a milestone for my blogging journey of 7.5 years!

I am very happy to have reached this milestone and to have all of you wonderful people (authors, publishers and bloggers alike) come along with me on this journey!

A huge thank you to everyone for the encouragement and support! 

Now, here goes…. My Thoughts on The Last Queen by one of my all time favourite authors Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

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About the Book:

‘I am Rani Jindan, Mother of the Khalsa. That is my identity. That is my fate.’

Daughter of the royal kennel keeper, the beautiful Jindan Kaur went on to become Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s youngest and last queen; his favourite. She became regent when her son Dalip, barely six years old, unexpectedly inherited the throne. Sharp-eyed, stubborn, passionate, and dedicated to protecting her son’s heritage, Jindan distrusted the British and fought hard to keep them from annexing Punjab. Defying tradition, she stepped out of the zenana, cast aside the veil and conducted state business in public. Addressing her Khalsa troops herself, she inspired her men in two wars against the ‘firangs’. Her power and influence were so formidable that the British, fearing an uprising, robbed the rebel queen of everything she had, including her son. She was imprisoned and exiled. But that did not crush her indomitable will.

An exquisite love story of a king and a commoner, a cautionary tale about loyalty and betrayal, and a powerful parable of the indestructible bond between mother and child, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s unforgettable novel brings alive one of the most fearless women of the nineteenth century, an inspiration for our times.

My Thoughts:

The Last Queen follows the life of Rani Jindan, the youngest wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh as she goes from being a common to a Queen. Her story is exquisitely written in this book by author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni with a keen attention to detail and historical fact. This is a poignant tale of love, loss, loyalty, bravery, betrayal, changing alliances and much more.

Jindan Kaur comes off a strong woman whose thirst for knowledge sets her apart. She seeks to learn and when she catches the Maharaja’s eye, she also partakes in many conversations about the kingdom and the many intricacies of ruling. Learning to navigate her way through the Zenana, Jindan becomes careful and shrewd, bowing down where necessary and standing up otherwise.

I truly enjoyed reading about her in this book which brings the Last Queen of the Sikh Empire to life. It is not a simple fantasy of a love story and a happy ending. There are so many layers to the characters and their lives that the reader is in for an emotional ride! The most important part of the story that resonates even after reading it, is the bond between mother and child. The way Jindan fights for the kingdom for her son and later fights just to see him is the strongest, most pure form of love!

As the last wife of the Maharaja, Jindan’s son doesn’t have any claim to the throne. However, circumstances change making him the king at a young age and Jindan the regent. As she navigates her way through the durbar and meetings, we see a side of her that is intriguing. Stepping above the norms of the community which dictates that women do not show their face or even take part in matters of the state, Jindan takes her role as regent seriously and thus makes quite a few enemies. With the British knocking at the door, there’s no clear way to determine whom to trust and whom not to.

This book is well-researched and very well-written. The author brings to us a story that is long forgotten, but one that should be known. It shows us what a woman can do and how much she is capable of dealing with, both physically and emotionally. The historical aspects of the story are handled well and thus we learn quite a lot from it, right from how the kings handled things, to the War of Independence and even get a glimpse into Sikhism and it’s many aspects. I choose not to talk much about the story as it is clear from the synopsis. I am more taken by the delivery and the final effect of this book!

Having been a fan of the author for some time now, this book was indeed a must read and it is totally worth it! This book will inspire you to read more, know more, learn more!

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