Author: Sundari Venkatraman
Rating: Three and a half
Genre: Historical Romance
A historical romance set into 14th century India is no child play and particularly when there is so much influence through our rich Indian literature such as Vedas, Upanishads, Ramayana, and Mahabharata or even Devdas, for that matter making it a daunting task. It begets a question: How was love in those days enshrined in a Kingdom, costumes and jewelry worn, conversations, place of men and women, mating, and for that matter intoxicating drinks.
As I read the latest offering by Sundari Venkatraman, the first thing that came to the fore is whether women suffered the same fate as they do in the current, modern times or distant past right from patriarchy, sexism, and freedom to and making love. At one glance, The Passionate Princess is a sublime story to tell.
The chapters in the book enchant readers in this wondrous tale and are hauntingly beautiful. Delightful prose about love and jealousy coupled with the description of the royal ethos, garments sequined with gold, food and letters with the touch of medieval paint nuances while offering a wondrous image.
The wandering gypsies and tribes, music, the tharra-desi liquor and wedding of Princess Hemangini with Prince Devendra is what a tapestry of dreams is made of. The description adds magnificence to the tale and Sundari Venkatraman as a writer pours zing where celluloid beauty meets fiction. She simply captures readers in this historical fantasy tale.
Penning a historical romance book is in itself a mammoth challenge for any writer and this is where Sundari Venkatraman’s book scores by capturing the 14th century and presenting her heroine as bold. Princess Hemangini is very much a modern woman, shining with courage and never shying in asking what is rightfully her whether love, respect and desire. The writer surely knows the pulse of her audience and The Passionate Princess has all the making of a blockbuster book, whether it’s the inner desire, tracing beauty hidden in intimacy and intense sex.
A writer who surely knows how to caress her characters and effortlessly making love to them in a honest and subtle manner. It’s pure beauty. The sensual and intimate sex set against the atmosphere and description, exploring the seamless and is never a dull moment. What I like with Sundari Venkatraman is that with every book, she brings something new, at times and escaping from the dull, drab and routine.
The Passionate Princess is not just a book but offers a historical experience of romance and jaw-dropping description where every word sentence and narration is laced with visual opulence serving as an aesthetic treat. For instance, antariya and uttariya seeped into the intimate romance narrative is education to aficionados of romance, wannabe writers on how the importance of research makes a compelling book.
The theme of conflict and jealousy is present on one hand between Rani Maa, Queen Kanchana Devi and the new bride Hemangini on one hand and the other between the latter and Devendra sets the pace in making it intriguing. The longing for love and insecurity is inimical to the plot and gnaws the characters as they veer to the untold past and palace secrets.
Sundari Venkatraman is one hell of a writer who challenges herself every time and constantly experiment in her genre, romance. Arguably, a historical romance in itself is a herculean task and possible pitfalls that one cannot help to avoid. As much as I love the story, I feel that at some point the description set against those days gets lost in translation to a certain extent during the escapade of royal lovers post-wedding. Make no mistake the detailing during the escapade is an absolute delight with the disguising making it a high point. The aspect about seeing the Prince as vulnerable is missing and would prefer to see this personality part rather than the perfect and muscular. Yet, these are rare exceptions in an otherwise brilliant book.
Sundari Venkatraman in this compelling tale has shown what Passionate a Princess Hemangini is. It is an ode to a valiant woman demanding what’s rightfully her as a lover, warrior, and wife who could rule the Kingdom of Indrapuri for many years. I want to see a sequel with Princess Hemangini calling the shots. Are you listening Sundari Venkatraman? The allegories and metaphors make The Passionate Princess not just a fast-paced read but a novel worth your time breaking away from boredom that creeps into the vast jungle of love and Indian romance, we love to explore. A mesmerizing tale where Queen Kanchana Devi bears a slight shade of King Kaikeyi and romance a la Lord Rama and Goddess Sita.
The author contacted me for the book review in exchange for a copy. I am already late with the review and apologize to her for taking hell long time. Click on Amazon to buy the book. Read the blurb on Goodreads and connect with the author on FB and Twitter.