Michelle Moran’s latest novel, Rebel Queen, takes readers to mid-nineteenth century India. The British attempt to gobble up the country and swallow it whole and the stand against their rapacious hunger is witnessed by one of the bodyguard to Lakshmi, the Queen of Jhansi, the so-called Rebel Queen. A unique person in her own right, Sita Bhosale has given up her hope of a good marriage or a place in the temple in order to train for her place in the queen’s inner force of protectors. With a crippled father, a little sister who needs looking after, and no brothers to care for their household, Sita feels the weight of responsibility from a young age to care for others. Her position as bodyguard will take her farther from her home and family and teach her more about being a woman than she ever imagined.
Moran’s gift seems to be writing about well-known women in history from the perspective of the lesser well-known women around them, such as Marie Antoinette and many others in Madam Tussaud. Likewise in Rebel Queen, Moran’s outsider-looking-in style shines, creating an astounding world from the grubby streets of Sita’s backstreet village and cruel grandmother to the opulent palaces of the rani and raj of Jhansi. Her attention to detail weaves flawlessly into the narrative, engrossing the reader and carrying them away to times far away. This story is an excellent example of the genre and a thoroughly worthwhile and highly captivating read.
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