The Mirror of Beauty – Shamsur Rahman Faruqi
It is the sunset of the Mughal Empire. The splendour of imperial Delhi flares one last time. The young daughter of a craftsman in the city elopes with an officer of the East India Company. And so we are drawn into the story of Wazir Khanam: a dazzlingly beautiful and fiercely independent woman who takes a series of lovers, including a Navab and a Mughal prince–and whom history remembers as the mother of the famous poet Dagh. But it is not just one life that this novel sets out to capture: it paints in rapturous detail an entire civilization.
Beginning with the story of an enigmatic and gifted painter in a village near Kishangarh, The Mirror of Beauty embarks on an epic journey that sweeps through the death-giving deserts of Rajputana, the verdant valley of Kashmir and the glorious cosmopolis of Delhi, the craft of miniature painting and the art of carpet designing, scintillating musical performances and recurring paintings of mysterious, alluring women. Its scope breathtaking, its language beguiling, and its style sumptuous, this is a work of profound beauty, depth and power.