Customer Reviews for

The Enchantress of Florence

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

A reviewer

I picked up this book on whim after I saw Rushdie on Colbert Report plugging The Enchantress of Florence. Im really glad I did because the book impressed me from start to finish. Vivid description blends history (which as the other reviewer said is heavily researche...
I picked up this book on whim after I saw Rushdie on Colbert Report plugging The Enchantress of Florence. Im really glad I did because the book impressed me from start to finish. Vivid description blends history (which as the other reviewer said is heavily researched with an abridged and yet still extensive bibliography) with fable-- though the plot, and characters, even historical ones, are uniquely imagined with distinct personalities that are often bawdy, fun, and intelligent. Never read anything else by Rushdie before but if its even remotely like this I am sure that it must be great! Highly recommended for those interested in history, fairytales, and language. I read this in only a few sittings as its very difficult to put down!

posted by Anonymous on July 6, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

I was shocked when I heard/read a synopsis after reading this bo

I was shocked when I heard/read a synopsis after reading this book that, "The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world." However, after dwelling on it, I realized the difficulty I have with t...
I was shocked when I heard/read a synopsis after reading this book that, "The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world." However, after dwelling on it, I realized the difficulty I have with this statement is that the bulk of the story is told in a male voice and thus I question how can anyone say that the book is purely about a woman attempting to command her destiny when it isn't even in her own voice.

While the original synopsis is correct as far as it goes ... I think a better synopsis is that it is a story from a man's perspective about a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man's world. Which lead me to the thought that the men in this book (and maybe the author himself) are subconsciously fearful of empowered women and thus, the men in this book must explain their loss of control/power over this woman by describing her as an enchantress./seductress who sucked the life/power out of each of the men she came in contact with in this book. And in the end - it is all about each man realizing that he does not have control over all.

posted by bonitatibus on April 7, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    I picked up this book on whim after I saw Rushdie on Colbert Report plugging The Enchantress of Florence. Im really glad I did because the book impressed me from start to finish. Vivid description blends history (which as the other reviewer said is heavily researched with an abridged and yet still extensive bibliography) with fable-- though the plot, and characters, even historical ones, are uniquely imagined with distinct personalities that are often bawdy, fun, and intelligent. Never read anything else by Rushdie before but if its even remotely like this I am sure that it must be great! Highly recommended for those interested in history, fairytales, and language. I read this in only a few sittings as its very difficult to put down!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

    I was shocked when I heard/read a synopsis after reading this bo

    I was shocked when I heard/read a synopsis after reading this book that, "The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world." However, after dwelling on it, I realized the difficulty I have with this statement is that the bulk of the story is told in a male voice and thus I question how can anyone say that the book is purely about a woman attempting to command her destiny when it isn't even in her own voice.

    While the original synopsis is correct as far as it goes ... I think a better synopsis is that it is a story from a man's perspective about a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man's world. Which lead me to the thought that the men in this book (and maybe the author himself) are subconsciously fearful of empowered women and thus, the men in this book must explain their loss of control/power over this woman by describing her as an enchantress./seductress who sucked the life/power out of each of the men she came in contact with in this book. And in the end - it is all about each man realizing that he does not have control over all.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2008

    Prodigious Fiction

    As a male, I found this book exceptionally enjoyable. As presented for our local book club to read within 3 weeks, I read it in a matter of hours over a few days. The breadth of material presented, including the characters & development, the scenery, and the adventures all culminated to form a great story ¿ fiction AND not. A fellow book friend and I talked about this one, and we both believe that there are some underlying current power struggles, relating to personal, religious & political gains, that Rushdie is communicating. We will be chewing on it for awhile¿ I highly recommend this book, if anything for escapism.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2008

    Exceptional

    Rushdie¿s Enchantress of Florence is haunting and exquisite. Exceptional prose, delightfully readable. The story focuses on the fading boundary between fantasy and reality¿women from dreams become solid, men retreat into their paintings. Magic permeates the story as the novel challenges assumptions about what defines truth and even substance¿and suggests that if one cannot determine one¿s destiny, there is a finite ability to create one¿s reality. Imaginative and compelling.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2009

    Rushdie is a genius!

    I have never done a review before, but honestly, Rushdie is a master, a literary genius. We read this for a book club I am in and we could have talked about it for hours -- all the layers of meaning, how the tale is told with such originality, all the ways it speaks to humanity!

    We are all now reading another book by him and I can't wait to talk about that one! Enjoy!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2008

    a book club member

    The author takes the current literary devices of '1' using different voices to tell his story and '2' going back and forth through time to such an extreme that they become thoroughly confusing and very irritating. I plowed through the book, hoping with each chapter that the next would be better, but it wasn't! None of the characters are fully drawn, and none are sympathetic or the least bit interesting.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Enchantress of Florence is a novel worthy of Rushdie. That s

    The Enchantress of Florence is a novel worthy of Rushdie. That sounds redundant, but is probably the highest praise I could give a novel. This is novel of Mughal India and Renaissance Italy, of love and loss, betrayal and redemption. But more than anything this is a novel about the nature of power. With Akbar the Great and Niccolo Machiavelli in starring roles we explore the power of princes, and the right to rule. As we follow the life of Machiavelli from bright young thinker to bitter old man Rushdie draws us a historical picture of the events which likely influenced his brutal ideas on power. Meanwhile we are given a glimpse of the inner workings of Akbar the Great, dreamer and poet, who seems philosophically to be the antithesis of Machiavelli's "Prince"; a man who takes pride in his illustrious ancestry, while abhorring the bloody history of his illustrious ancestors. A man who will not hesitate to destroy those who challenge his power, yet mourns the need to do so. But in the end is philosophy enough? Is not a tyrant a tyrant, regardless of his ideology? While Akbar struggles with these questions, he (and we) are told the story of his great-aunt, the titular Enchantress, who has been erased from history for daring to follow her own path, for trying to exercise her own agency, trying to create her own power. The Enchantress of Florence is a wonderful novel (in every sense), and while it may not be quite so profound as some of Rushdie's other works, the language here really shines and the pure storytelling is unsurpassed. I don't recommend it as a starting point for Rushdie newbies, go with Midnight's Children or Shame, but those who are familiar with Rushdie will find everything they are looking for.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2012

    Great

    Although the narrative could be hard to follow at times, i enjoyed the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Confusing to the point of tiring

    Rushdie's incredible prose hardly does justice to the plot. Some of the characters, as well as the storyline, had such potential - the Sultan, his favorite wife, the Princess and the Mirror...but Rushdie never truly fully explored them, and instead ran a bit roughshod over a gem-in-the-rough story as the plot jumped forward and back in time. You'll want to keep reading just to try and figure out what's going on. The end was very interesting, fitting, I think. But I finished the read disappointed and with a headache. For a book set in the lush, colorful world of the past Middle East, India, etc., see below.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2008

    A reviewer

    his best work...impeccably researched, I a student of history, I know how well he portrays the time period. Beautiful use of mythological elements and tone. Prose is flowing and exotic. A must read!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Magnificently Multi-Layered Novel This is a magnificent novel;

    Magnificently Multi-Layered Novel This is a magnificent novel; a model
    of the perfect reading for a book group, or literature class. Rushdie
    creates and amazingly solid and well-crafted central plot, surrounded by
    parables and dreams, imbued with a deep multiplicity of meanings, that
    all flows like poetry. "Enchantress" is a more focused
    version of Umberto Eco's "The Island of the Day Before". It
    has that same dream-like quality of stories flowing into and within
    other stories, but in Rushdie's case, anchored by a more stable threaded
    plot. The novel revolves around a mysterious European traveler,
    ostensibly from Florence, who finds himself at the court of an Indian
    ruler. The Florentine (who goes by numerous names) has a secret to
    tell...a secret that will kill all but one who are exposed by it. This
    secret is the fulcrum upon which this vibrant tale is balanced. Rushdie
    delves into themes of love, poetry, one-ness, leadership, gender,
    beauty, war, and the list goes on. I'm quite sure that I was only able
    to grasp but a small fraction of the delightfully nuanced story's
    multiple tiers of meanings. English majors will have an easier time
    dissecting the stories within the stories, but all readers will enjoy
    Rushdie's easy-flowing style. The first third of the novel takes place
    in India where the stage is set for the Florentine's secret. The second
    two thirds focus on Florence where Niccolo Machiavelli plays a
    significant role in unravelling the deadly secret. Each character
    represents a different quality of being or literate theme. Each clue to
    the mystery leads to a new tale, a new parable. These lead Rushdie,
    particularly in the early India-centered scenes, to create a bright
    atmosphere of story-clouds, drifting in and out from each other,
    composing a complete and satisfactory conclusion. I found myself
    looking forward to each reading session with 'Enchantress'. Rushdie's
    approach to building the story and themes developed a very comforting
    and pleasing read. While I wouldn't consider this 'light' reading, it's
    deeply layered story and almost poetic approach make this a wonderful book.

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  • Posted October 22, 2011

    Good story

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  • Posted August 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Sumptuous Literary Feast

    Salman Rushdie has a reputation for being one of the most significant and talented literary voices in the World and this novel clearly shows why. "The Enchantress of Florence" is set in sixteenth century, and its plot spans several generations, two continents and a few kingdoms and empires. Its elaborate plot would certainly overwhelmed any lesser writer, but Rushdie manages to confidently raise to the challenges that he sets up for himself. The historic setting of the narrative, the erudition that went into the writing of this novel, and the elaborate and unexpected plot twists in many respects remind one of the works of Umberto Eco. And yet what truly intrigues one with this novel is the persistent seduction of the high-level literary style. Rushdie manages to be baroque with his language and ideas, without being pretentious or overbearing. With him you just know that all that sophistication in expressions and style comes naturally as an outgrowth of his talent.

    The one problem that I have with the book is that all of the characters and situations seem oversexualized, even by the standards of the 21st century. The book is by no means graphic when it comes to sexual content, but there is hardly a page on which some sexual theme is not dealt with, either explicitly or explicitly. It could be in fact that the setting and the narrative of the book are in fact some grand sexual allegory, but I am not sophisticated enough to be able to discern it without spending a lot of time on this matter.

    Overall, a very good book. Interesting and elaborate, with enough twists of plot to keep one coming back to it. A good read.

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  • Posted July 7, 2011

    CONFUSED

    I finished the book yesterday and am still confused. This book was the hardest book to read that I have ever attempted, and I am not stuck on dime novels. So, why did I keep reading? Was it Rushdie? Akbar? Historically, Akbar was one of the greatest rulers of all time. The characteristics given to Rushdie in the Overview were in fact those of Akbar. One other reviewer read it through wondering why she kept reading. So, I am not alone, and I will read it again some day. Until then, I remain, considerately yours, Confused. LL

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2010

    A mixture of history and fantasy it has historical figures, geography, and imaginaton all rolled in together.

    This was the first book I ever read by Salman Rushdie so I wasn't sure what I expected but this is more of a fairy tale than a novel. While a mixture of history and fantasy the Enchantress of Florence is bathed throughout in Mediterranean sunlight and Oriental sensuousness. Its action covers half the known world, taking you to the seacoast of Africa, the subcontinent of India, the Battlefields in the Middle East and the Italian Renaissance. Some of the historical figures throughout the novel are Niccolo Miachiavelli, the Medicis, and the Mogul Emperor Akhbar. It also swarms with gorgeous young women both historical and imagined, beautiful queens and irresistible enchantresses.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent

    This is a fabulous read and should be a 'must' for any discerning reader. Rushdie, once again, brilliantly, through a masterly combination of Eastern and Western narrative, conveys the similarities that cause each of us, no matter our past,race, religion or nationality, to justify our existence and importance through trying to impose our beliefs, experiences and world understanding on others. Rushdie writes that it is not our differences, but similarities that are most dangerous. We all create narratives to justify our importance over other and believe what we want to believe no matter how ludicrous it may seem, instead of understanding that the beauty of our journey in this life is an often misguided personal path where through mistakes and imperfection we reach a determination of our own, individual, morality and 'goodness'. Rushdie contrasts this with the dogma and ideologue and preconceptions that we are want to believe, and not question, in order to self-promote and impose our self-perceived importance over others.

    The brilliance of this novel, in my opinion, is that he shows this through an equal treatment of different religions and not focussing on the ills and fanaticism of just one.

    Perhaps Brandon Flowers of The Killers and Rushdie have been trading notes: "Are We Human or Are We Dancer?" Or perhaps are we both highly influenced by Friedrich Nietzche??

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Another Stunning Novel From 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.

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  • Posted August 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    painful

    a huge dissapointment....wordy, slowpaced, confusing... Im usually a huge fan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2009

    Lost in Confusion

    I will say this, I am a very, very avid read, and on all topics and complexity, from fairytales to political and religious theory, and this book was by far, the most laborious and cumbersome work ever put in front of me. Not because of language or nuance, diction, etc...because it is simply, not an easy read. Initially, the book grabs you, it is fantastical, but much of that is lost. The best way I could put how I felt about this work was that it seemed as though I was reading an attempt at sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction written by a mathematician, a complex philosopher...someone who dissects very hard theorems in order to ascertain their validity or futility. I am sad to say that Rushdie does not understand character development, nor the idea of 'less is more'..that is, tending towards a more simple, "let the idea and the characters carry the book" rather than putting in a bunch of SAT words and explaining to much of what he means instead of just letting the reader figure it out. I got so frustrated reading this book that I put it down several times...tried to get back into it, and failed again, I've made it through about 80% of the book and I can tell you, it's not worth it. If there are people out there that are thinking "you fool, read the whole thing, what about the end"...think again. Writing is an art, if you can't intrigue people and keep them captivated from the first sentence...you've failed. Period.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2009

    Excellent!

    Brilliantly written!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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