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The Enchantress of Florence
     

The Enchantress of Florence

3.8 54
by Salman Rushdie
 

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The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a mysterious woman, a great beauty believed to possess the powers of enchantment and sorcery, attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world. It is the story of two cities at the height of their powers–the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant emperor Akbar the Great wrestles daily

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Enchantress of Florence 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
CR-Buell More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although the narrative could be hard to follow at times, i enjoyed the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
JGolomb More than 1 year ago
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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Tunguz More than 1 year ago
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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ladylawyer8650 More than 1 year ago
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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