I’m not quite sure how I stumbled upon Michelle Moran so many years ago. I do know that I devoured Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen. Cleopatra’s Daughter nearly made me miss my flight to Philadelphia from Detroit I was so wrapped up in reading the ending. When Touchstone approved my NetGalley request (I don’t make many), I had to hold back my shouts and squeals of joy. I couldn’t believe my luck.
After only a few pages, I knew that I was in for wild, rich ride through Indian history. It didn’t take long for me fall in love with Sita. She’s my new book bff. Intelligent, beautiful, literate, strong, a fighter—she’s everything I want in a heroine. And for once, men don’t muddy the plot. The story is about Sita’s fight for her independence as well as India’s. It was refreshing to spend 300 pages with a group of women so devoted to their cause (the protection of the rani) and not have them tripping over each other trying to please the men. They did what they needed to do to guarantee their job was done and that India was defended.
Moran does an excellent job of painting Sita’s India. The sights, the sounds, the smells came alive. I felt the disgust of the Indians as the British encroached on their lands and their traditions. It was sad when I realized there was only one way for the story to end. I had grown so fond of the rani and her Durga Dal that I did not want the finish the book.
True to form, Moran does an excellent job of melding fact and fiction, creating characters that come alive and sit beside you and tell you their story. You see the world through their eyes, feel what they feel and see what they see. It’s a magical time and one that I often find myself wishing didn’t end so quickly.