Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Enchantress Of Florence by Salmon Rushdie

A yellow-haired foreigner has arrived at the palace of the Eastern Emperor, Akbar.  While many such strangers would be sent on their way, this man is given an audience with the emperor.  He starts to tell a fabulous story, and soon, makes the incredible claim that he is actually the Emperor's uncle; son of a famous beauty who was a daughter of the court but who was captured in a war and then chose to remain with her captor when freed.  Due to this refusal to return bak to court life, her name is erased from the family history, but there are still some older people who remember her or her story.

This woman is the Enchantress of Florence, but that is just one of her many names.  She is called Angelina, The Woman With Dark Eyes, The Enchantress, Qara Koz and other names.  She lives in various places, always with men who will give up anything and everything to have her love.  When necessary, she picks up and moves on to the next life, the next man.

Salmon Rushdie plays with several themes here.  There is the theme of each person knowing a different side of another; this theme is represented by the multiple names that each character has.  There is the theme of love and what will be done to sustain love.  The question of whether in each relationship there is one who loves and one who is loved is explored.  Another theme explores the lives of those who travel and contrasts them with those who choose to remain in their homeplace.  Rushdie repeats one phrase that ties the stories of the East and the Italian city of Florence together.  The curse of the human race is not that we are so different from one another, but that we are so alike.

This book is highly recommended.  The language is lush, and the story moves back and forth, with myriad characters that require the reader's full attention.  The characters are finely drawn and even those who have minimal parts to play are fully developed.  The book leaves the reader with much to think about.  For those readers who enjoy fantasy and non-linear plotlines, this book is a gift. 


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I have not read ANY Rushdie books, but acquired 4 in 2009 so he is on my list for 2010. Thanks for the great review Sandie (I don't have this one yet), but it sounds great.

Sandie said...

I can't wait to hear how you like Rushdie. He is one of my top ten authors, and I've never read one by him I rated other than top of my scale.

Jackie Mattina said...

Thanks for this review. I have never read this author and will give this book a try.