My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The publisher’s blurb for The Enchantress of Florence does credit to the surface plot of the story. However, to read a Rushdie novel is all about depths, dimensions — mirrors, if you will. And it is mirrors this novel addresses, from the handmaiden of the Enchantress herself, to relationships, histories, and philosophies. To read this novel is like looking at a mirror reflected in a mirror; the depths are infinite.
There is the mirror of Qara Koz and her handmaiden, and again of that relationship reflected in the whores known as The Skeleton and The Mattress. There is the reflection of Jodha, Akbar the Great’s conjured queen, in the reincarnation of Qara Koz. There are reflections of a menage a trois, of battles won and lost, of political maneuverings.
As with any of Rushdie’s work, he makes no apologies for expecting his readers to be fully engaged and all synapses firing. A light, escapist read this isn’t; neither is it a plodding literary tome one feels obligated to read. Rushdie draws this huge cast of characters, many of them lifted directly from history, with a very realistic, human hand, and just when a narrative is in danger of becoming too self-important, his wit takes flight and brings all sensibilities back to the common man.
Even while his writing is without peer, in this novel he also created such pathos that in the end, for me, there were tears. This is a fascinating read from a literary, an historical, and a plain old entertaining perspective.by