- Paperback: 355 pages
- Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 6, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679640517
- ISBN-13: 978-0679640516
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 177 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Enchantress of Florence: A Novel Paperback – January 6, 2009
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“A romance of beauty and power from Italy to India . . . so delightful an homage to Renaissance magic and wonder.”
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“This is ‘history’ jubilantly mixed with postmodernist magic realism.”
–Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books
“A baroque whirlwind of a narrative . . . [Rushdie helps] us escape from the present into a dreamlike past that ultimately makes us more aware of the dangers and illusions of our everyday lives.”
–Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune
“Brilliant . . . Rushdie’s sumptuous mixture of history and fable is magnificent.”
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“For Rushdie, as for the artists he writes about, the pen is a magician’s wand. . . . One of his best [novels].”
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“[A] prodigious fever dream of a book.”
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“Beyond its magical razzle-dazzle lays a work of steely contemporary resonance, rich in slyly metafictional allusions.”
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About the Author
Salman Rushdie is the author of nine previous novels: Grimus; Midnight’s Children (which was awarded the Booker Prize in 1981 and, in 1993, was judged to be the “Booker of Bookers,” the best novel to have won that prize in its first twenty-five years); Shame (winner of the French Prix de Meilleur Livre Etranger); The Satanic Verses (winner of the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel); Haroun and the Sea of Stories (winner of the Writers Guild Award); The Moor’s Last Sigh (winner of the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel); The Ground Beneath Her Feet (winner of the Eurasian section of the Commonwealth Prize); Fury (a New York Times Notable Book); and Shalimar the Clown (a Time Book of the Year). He is also the author of a book of stories, East, West, and three works of nonfiction– Imaginary Homelands, The Jaguar Smile, and The Wizard of Oz. He is co-editor of Mirrorwork, an anthology of contemporary Indian writing.
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[Spoiler warning: Perhaps I was in a cantankerous frame of mind, but I wished the women in the story has played parts beyond those of sex, beauty, envy, and manipulation. It would have been great to borrow one of the Spartan women from Steven Pressfield's "Gates of Fire," a woman with courage, compassion, and intelligence.... Also, this happens to be the second book in a row that I've read that, alas, contains incest.]
I enjoyed this book very much. I found the settings and characters interesting and enjoyed it's reflections about storytelling and its story-within-story framing narrative. While there is a sharp departure from India to Italy in the second part of the book, Rushdie does ultimately tie everything together in a satisfactory way that explains the mystery of the character known as the "Mogor dell'Amore". If you keep reading, your patience will be rewarded.
I particularly enjoyed Rushdie's account of Akbar the Great and his capital city of Fatehpur Sikri in northwest India. In fact, when I had a chance to visit India 4 months later, I made a point of visiting Fatehpur Sikri which is one hour from Agra where the famed Taj Mahal is. Most tourists to India visit Agra but don't take the time to visit Akbar's city. The beautiful red sandstone buildings are well-preserved and definitely worth visiting for a half or whole day. My visit to Fatehpur Sikri was one of the highlights of my trip to India, in part because I could picture Akbar and his court thanks to Rushdie's vivid account of them.
I was not disappointed. Rushdie's storytelling, his imagination and his command of the English language are unmatched.
The premise is unique...a golden haired foreigner makes his way to India to share a story with the Mughal Emporer Akbar. Rushdie gradually unfolds the tale in mesmerizing style. The narrrative is enhanced by the Indian and Italian settings and by the frequent references to historical figures including Genghis Kahn, the Medici's, Vlad the Impaler and a host of others.
The writing is spectacular!! Normally I prefer the compactness of a Hemingway, but Rushdi's flowing style reads well, and his command of language and his imagination are beyond compare. On a number of occassions I paused to admire the beauty of his sometimes page-long sentences and his flawless inclusion of words that I have not seen since college (and some not even then).
It is only fair to add that Rushdie is not for everyone. The things that make this book magnificent will not necessarily appeal to everyone. But they appealed to me!! After a pause to catch my breath, I will be on to "Midnight's Children."