Micro review: ‘The Last Queen’ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – Times of India

Bestselling author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s first historical-fiction book ‘The Last Queen’ released in 2021 and it will soon be adapted for screen. The book follows the extraordinary yet lesser-known story of Rani Jindan Kaur of Punjab.

While one might have heard stories of Rani Lakshmi Bai and Padmavati, the story of Rani Jindan Kaur of Punjab is fairly lesser-known. Born to the royal kennel keeper, the beautiful Jindan Kaur married Maharaja Ranjit Singh and became his youngest, favourite and last queen. While she adjusted to her new role of being a Rani and a mother after the wedding, her real troubles started when she lost her husband to age-related illnesses. She then navigated her life through cunning courtiers to become a Maharani when her son Dalip was made the King at the age of six. With her sharp acumen and passion, Rani Jindal dedicated her life to protecting Dalip’s inheritance of the throne. She was one of the few Indian queens of her time to defy tradition, cast away the veil, and address her audience and courtiers. Rani Jindal distrusted the British; so much so that she even addressed and inspired her Khalsa troop in wars against them. Fearing her influence, the British tried to rob her of everything that she had– from her kingdom to her son– but that didn’t crush her undying will. In her later years she lived in exile in Nepal and Britain, where she finally reunited with her son.

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This is a fascinating story of one of India’s most fearless women of the 19th century, who fought against the British with all her might. The book is divided into four parts– ‘Girl’, ‘Bride’, ‘Queen’ and ‘Rebel’– that revives Rani Jindal’s remarkable life. Fast-paced and a quick read, the book manages to capture Rani Jindal’s character and indomitable spirit quite well. Banerjee Divakaruni’s magic with words and exceptional storytelling skills shine through her writing. Fans of the author would love to add this book to their reading list.

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