Wednesday, September 10, 2008
75. "The Enchantress of Florence" - Salman Rushdie
Rushdie has said that this is his best work, as well as his most researched novel. While the Man Booker folks disagree, this was the first Salman Rushdie novel that didn't feel like a forced-for-schoolwork read.
If you have the patience for long-winded narrative and descriptions of several different names and historical events, you will enjoy this fantasy/fairy tale. From Queen Elizabeth I (the Virgin Queen) to the de Medici family (whom I'd recently researched), the story blends the magical with the impossible. To fully enjoy the novel, however, you need to have some basic idea of the history of the time period (early to mid 1500s).
Akbar the Great is the leader of the East, emperor of the Mughal empire. One day, a long-haired blond man wearing a multi-colored leather coat approaches Akbar's city. He says he has a story to tell the emperor, and eventually his tale of the enchantress of Florence endears the man (who goes by several aliases, so I'll call him Mugar dell'Amore) to not only the emperor but the entire town as they wish to know the empress so completely as to bring her to life through memories.
It's a playful side of Rushdie's writing that I've not seen. He writes less about politics and more about religion and sex, which I found refreshing. Catching the end of an NPR interview, I heard the host call this "a book of two cities." I disagree - it's a book of two cultures who end up being quite alike. A positive note on the cusp of the United States presidential election.
3.5 out of 5.0 Blue Motorcycles.