Publisher: Rupa & Co.
A Princess Remembers is a very well written autobiography by Late Gayatri Devi, the maharani of Jaipur. I picked up the book primarily for the reason to know more about one of the most beautiful Indian women, I am not sure but she just might be the first Indian women to be listed in the 10 most beautiful women of the world by Vogue. The book however was the complete contrast to my expectations as it was everything but the story about a life of a beautiful woman and I must add that it exceeded my expectations by a mile.
The book is a brilliant tale of the lives of the royal families of the princely states. The book is a glimpse of the contribution the royal families in gradually eradicating the menaces from the society like ‘Purdah’. The book also in a small yet significant manner reflects that how the subjects of the princely states loved, respected and connected the bond with their rulers explaining why some parliamentary seats have never been taken away from the ruling family despite more than 60 years of democracy.
Another thing which book gave me an insight into was a different aspect of the freedom struggle of India. I always believed that the freedom struggle was joyous moment for every Indian apart from the communal violence which gripped the country. The book enlightened me with the plight or downfall of the royal families and how they had happily sacrificed the standard of their lives and status to ensure a single entity of India would be formed.
I am not sure how much the other readers would relate to it, but it shed the light on the ways of Congress and it’s corrupt and power hungry ways starting right from 1947. Personally speaking reading the headlines about the rampant corruption today, I could relate that this has been the tradition since the Indian independence. Also the book made me aware about the efforts & works of C. Rajgopalachari (the first governor general of India) to form a transparent, and ethical opposition against congress.
The book is an interesting and very evenly paced read starting from the childhood of Gayatri Devi’s mother to her own struggle to represent her people in the democratic setup. The book is very well written ensuring almost all the aspects of her life are covered in detail for the reader to have a holistic picture, at the same time the flow has enough pace to engage the reader throughout the length of the book.
I am not very sure what would have been the purpose when Lt. Gayatri Devi wrote this book, but it sure broadened my perspectives about her from the one of the most beautiful Indian women to the modern Indian women in the early & mid 20th century, a social reformer, a concerned & ground rooted politician, and an elegant sports person.
The book is one of the gems if you like the autobiography genre; it could have been better if her adult life would have been covered in as much depth as her childhood and romance. But still the books makes for a totally worthwhile read.
Summary: A riveting tale of a princess & a maharani living in the era from the royalty to a democracy surviving and succeeding the transformation. The book is light and enjoyable read written in a simplistic and elegant way. A must read for Autobiography fans.
Rating: 4.5 / 5