The famous Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi is often celebrated as icon of our freedom struggle, symbol of bravery and a beacon of light. We have idolized her as a goddess- a role model for women, rarely trying to examine and even deliberately ignoring her human aspect. In this fictional tale which is rather well researched by the author we try to probe in the mind of the 'Rani'. The book traces all the historical events in Rani's life which form the skeletal framework of the manuscript but it goes beyond that to fill in the flesh and blood through the emotional turmoil and experiences of its characters. It is worth reading for people who love to go beyond the presentation of facts and into the realm of human emotions. Jaishree Mishra would leave you in tears as you would read about the evolution of a simple girl into a 'warrior queen'- a fate imposed on her rather than selected by choice.
The accession of British East India Company as the paramount Indian power between 1820-1857 and the years of the 'Revolution of 1857' depicted by Indian authors as the 'First War of Independence' while relegated to the background by the British accounts as 'Sepoy Mutiny'. The novel tries to explore the era through the eyes of two main characters- the Rani Lakshmi Bai and Major Willis; the Reagent of East India Company at Jhansi. It tries to present the human face of the entire conflict; the trepidations and sufferings of individual people often forgotten in the glorified accounts of blood and valor in a war.
The writing style of the narrative is intense and stimulating enough to keep the reader captivated to the end. The book never gets boring, always keeping the reader engrossed and one with its characters, feeling their hope, their suffering and their resignation to fate with stoicism.
Jaishree Misra has done an 'Indian Hemingway' in 'Rani' by capturing the futility of war and the emotional waste the constant exposure to uncertainty makes of men and women. It presents a never explored dimension of the era of the 'mutiny', a seemingly unbiased account presented through the eyes of both sides to the conflict. But in the backdrop of these issues the soul of the book lies in the exploration of the ‘Rani of Jhansi', a woman who would be remembered by her legend rather than the person she was.
Book Reviewed by Ashay Anand
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