Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran
Available In-House and on in Ebook from Library2Go
Synopsis from Goodreads:
When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the 1850s, it expects a quick and easy conquest. After all, India is not even a country, but a collection of kingdoms on the subcontinent. But when the British arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, expecting its queen to forfeit her crown, they are met with a surprise. Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male, one female—and rides into battle like Joan of Arc. Although her soldiers are little match against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi fights against an empire determined to take away the land she loves.
Told from the perspective of Sita, one of the guards in Lakshmi's all-female army and the queen’s most trusted warrior, The Last Queen of India traces the astonishing tale of a fearless ruler making her way in a world dominated by men.
Wow Michelle Moran does it again. Such an amazing story about a time and place I really knew nothing about and am now completely mesmerized with. I want to read anything else I can find about this time period, even though they probably won’t compare to how this is written.
These were absolutely amazing women and as always with Moran's books it made do more research the first thing I searched was images of the clothing how gorgeous they must have been. The way they dressed was amazing and seeing the pictures even made it more real. The freedom these women had in Jhansi was extraordinary especially compared to the village women who could never leave the house, which is how Sita grew up plus she had an overbearing grandmother to add to the stresses of daily life. Having a girl child in India in the 1800’s was not a happy occasion if it was not a son then it just didn’t matter, girls were sometimes killed, given away to who knows where and kind of horrible circumstance they would end up in. (prostitution, slavery, nunnery etc.) But Sita was lucky her father loved her even after her mother dies her father never thinks of getting rid of her in one of these horrible ways, though his mother has other ideas (she is an awful person!), so to keep his mother from doing anything bad to Sita he decides she should become a Durga Dal for Queen Lakshmi or the Rani as she is called. The Durga’s are women soldiers and guards of the Rani who dress in beautiful silks but fight better than most men. This is such a fascinating chunk of history that I knew nothing about and if you love books with strong female characters look no further than this one.
Every character in this book is drawn to perfection, there are no one dimensional characters to be found, everyone has a distinct personality and background. There are some great characters in this book even the ones you don’t like; you will find you are still fascinated by their actions. Sita is the person telling the story of what happened during those fateful times when the British decided to just take over India and India and their culture and traditions be damned they just wanted it. The end of the book is heartbreaking, well, so are a few parts in the middle!
I of course had to love that Sita loved to read and because in her Village women didn’t leave the house very rarely going outside this is called purdah, but Sita lived many lives through books she read as she says, “Even prisoners can escape if they have books.”
I was completely and thoroughly enthralled with this story, I learned so much and felt completely immersed in the sights, sounds and clothing of this time. Michelle Moran always writes so beautifully that you feel like you are there with the characters and this book is no exception.