Beneath a Marble Sky

Beneath a Marble Sky

by John Shors


$9.74 $15.00 Save 35% Current price is $9.74, Original price is $15. You Save 35%.
View All Available Formats & Editions


Journey to dazzling seventeenth-century Hindustan, where the reigning emperor, consumed with grief over the tragic death of his beloved wife, commissioned the building of a grand mausoleum as a testament to the marvel of their love. This monument would soon become known as the Taj Mahal—a sight famous around the world for its beauty and the emotions it symbolizes.

Princess Jahanara, the courageous daughter of the emperor and his wife, recounts their mesmerizing tale, while sharing her own parallel story of forbidden love with the celebrated architect of the Taj Mahal. Set during a time of unimaginable wealth and power, murderous sibling rivalries, and cruel despotism, this impressive novel sweeps you away to a historical Hindustan brimming with action and intrigue in an era when, alongside the brutalities of war and oppression, architecture and the art of love and passion reached a pinnacle of perfection.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451218469
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 06/06/2006
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 8.22(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.79(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

John Shors traveled extensively throughout Asia after graduating from Colorado College in 1991, living for several years in Japan, where he taught English, and then trekking across the continent, visiting ten countries and climbing the Himalayas. More recently, Mr. Shors worked as a newspaper reporter in his hometown, Des Moines, Iowa, before entering public relations and moving to Boulder, Colorado. Beneath a Marble Sky is his first novel.


Boulder, Colorado

Date of Birth:

March 4, 1969

Place of Birth:

Des Moines, Iowa


B.A. in English, Colorado College, 1991

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“[A] spirited debut novel ...With infectious enthusiasm and just enough careful attention to detail, Shors gives a real sense of the times, bringing the world of imperial Hindustan and its royal inhabitants to vivid life.”—Publishers Weekly

“Jahanara is a beguiling heroine whom readers will come to love; none of today’s chick-lit heroines can match her dignity, fortitude and cunning…Elegant, often lyrical, writing distinguishes this literary fiction from the genre known as historical romance. It is truly a work of art, rare in a debut novel.”—The Des Moines Register

“An exceptional work of fiction...A gripping account.”—India Post

Beneath a Marble Sky is a passionate, lush, and dramatic novel, rich with a sense of place. John Shors is an author of sweeping imaginative force.”—Sandra Gulland, author of The Josephine B. Trilogy

“[A] story of romance and passion…A wonderful book if you want to escape to a foreign land while relaxing in your porch swing.”—St. Petersburg Times

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Beneath a Marble Sky 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 98 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Since Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha and Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring, I have been on a constant search for a romantic historical novel written with depth, poetic language, a female protagonist, and an antropologic view of a foreign society. This epic novel exceeds expectations in all of the categories - when I finished it, I felt as if the character development was flawless, non-cliche and I learned [although this is not a textbook in any way] a lot about 1600's Indian society. This book is outstanding. STRONGLY recommended.
ksvl More than 1 year ago
I read this amazing book recently and have to say it is among the top books I have read. I truly felt I was on this wonderful journey with the characters and saw the Taj Mahal being built. It was such a great love story between Jahanara, the youngest daughter of Sha Jahan and Isa, the architect of the Taj Mahal and the visuals laid out in the book were remarkable. I did not want the book to end because I wanted to read more about the Taj Mahal. If there was anything missing for me it was that there weren't pictures in the book showing the beauty of this part of Hindustan and the Taj Mahal. I sent an email to the author, John Shors after reading this book to tell him how much I enjoyed reading it and I was pleasantly surprised to receive a response to my email. He was gracious and thanked me for letting him know how much I enjoyed his book. I have definitely recommended this to my friends.
Tigerkitty More than 1 year ago
This is a believable story of forbidden romance. John Shors includes everything in this book: romance, danger, sadness, happiness, suspense, and intrigue. The plot flows well and spans over decades. It tells a tale of the forbidden love between the architect of the Taj Mahal and a princess of India. I loved the attention to detail and the beautiful imagery painted by Shors' words. The events in the story are not over the top, but are believable. "Beneath a Marble Sky" is a page turner and I could not put the book down. Parts of the book are more adult oriented in nature, but even those parts are tastefully written. Overall, I loved this book and would highly recommend reading it to anyone who loves historical, romantic, thrilling, suspenseful, and believable novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a story about true love, ones duty, perseverance, and more. It is so engrossing I couldn't put it down. I have given it as a gift to several friends, all of whom loved it. It will stay on my bookshelf forever - It's one I could re-read and not tire of it. So compelling!
Paloma More than 1 year ago
I could not! put this fantastic novel down for three days. It found me at a local used bookstore (sorry B&N!), and I was captivated from the first sentence. Shors graces us with not only a beautiful story, beautiful scenery, and beautiful characters, but also with strong women. Each charter lives her/his own life, making decisions that lead them down paths that they were meant to travel. It is historical fiction, and Shors points out that he is making that artistic leap of faith in several regards. It works because Shors connects the reality of the Taj Mahal, in all its splendor and all its incredible building materials and manpower, to its designer and women of inspiration, to the human condition. Yes, the human condition. Historical fiction does not work if the characters are not sufficiently credible to appear real throughout every page of the book. I laughed. I cried. This book made my impossible to make bookshelf. It is a keeper, it will be reread. Bravo Mr. Shors!
snowbird922 More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written Shors captures us with Jahanara's sense of duty and love for her family. I was actually surprised at how perceptive he was to the female's point of view on how far a woman would go to protect and honor those she loves. This book although fiction hit home for me on many of my own beliefs and I enjoyed immensely going through the motions as Jahanara was faced with her most difficult decisions. I think this is the perfect book for a readers club.
GadgetgirlKS More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to my friends and family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this novel in the span of a day. I just couldn't put it down! At times, you will cry, others, you will laugh, and sometimes even cringe at the hardships the characters must overcome to find peace in the end. I must say that Aurangzeb truly frightened me, and that the vivid painting of the Taj Mahal brought it before my eyes in all of its splendor, as if I was witnessing its birth. Wonderful book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. It is a quick read and a nice story. It reminded me of the Red Tent, which I loved.
bookhog More than 1 year ago
The heroine is strong and determined in the face of old traditions and loyalty to family. A look into a world of brutality and deep emotions, betrayal, friendship and love.
suzyd More than 1 year ago
I was swept away by the story and could not put the book down once I got into it. Truly amazing how the male author captured the feelings and thoughts of a young female narrator. He is to be commended not only for the beautiful story but also for making us forget that the author is a man.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book by the reviews and they lived up to their description. This book was wonderful. The characters caught my attention right away, as did the story. It was the first time I read anything about this time frame so I am not judging the history. It was great to find a new author, I look forward to reading his next book.
Moni_kay More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I fell in love with the characters and the story right away. The author did a great job recreating the times, not that I knew exactly how things were, but he made it very believable. His extensive research on the subject shows and even though I recognize that the story is considered fiction, it made the The Taj Mahal that much more real and beautiful to me. There is a lot of tragedy in this book, however, it is still very much a story about love, hope, and a sense of duty for the common good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not have enjoyed this book any more. It is an amazing story--one that made me laugh and cry, and one that I will always remember. This fine novel was recommended to me by several friends, and I can see why. It is simply fanastic. If you're interested in the beautiful story behind the Taj Mahal, or just wonderful writing, this book is for you. Beneath a Marble Sky is the best book that I read in 2007. No doubt about it.
GrannyNanny on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be very interesting. I didn't know that much about the Taj Mahal prior to reading it. This was the first novel written about the Taj Mahal and the author did an excellent job. The characters seem very real and I found the book hard to put down. I couldn't wait to find out how it would end. There were a lot of surprises and one of the characters did not get what you hoped he would. I highly recommend reading it!
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the things I liked best about this book was the introduction to a time period and place I know next to nothing about. Mr. Shors succeeds in creating a lush setting and an interesting story about the raising of the Taj Mahal. He creates tension through animosity between siblings and thwarted love. My biggest complaint about the story is that the people themselves weren't believable. The good characters were too good and the bad characters had no redeeming value. It made the story feel like a fairy tale rather than a true story of real people.
silva_44 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I was completely amazed by the descriptions of the Taj Mahal, and the rich history behind its flawless marble. The characters were breathtakingly complex, and so real. Fantastic novel.
vernefan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
*An Evocative and Intoxicating Debut*If there was a 12 star rating, I'd give it that and then some. This debut deserves all the stars in the heavens and more. Truly this is a wonderful, evocative tale of the wonderous building of one of the world's most crowning architectural achievements. I learned so much while reading this book, the history of India and it's culture, of it's people and their beliefs, and learned so much about the Taj Mahal that I never realized or knew before. The author should be highly proud of this first achievement, his writing is so beautiful and full of talent. Each word, each phrase, like poetry and I found myself reading passages over and over they were so well crafted. I really felt I was there in India, I could smell the spices, feel the desert sand, hear the jingling bells on the feet of sari swathed beautiful women, one can feel the cool smooth marble that built the majestic tomb that hold the Emperor's wife. Never have I read such a magnificent historical novel that left me mesmerized and telling all my friends to go buy a copy. Don't miss this story, you won't forget it for a long time.
punxsygal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 17th century Hindustan a grieving husband commisions to have built a grand mausoleum for his beloved wife. Times were tense. Hindustan was inhabited by Hindus, but ruled by Muslims. Wars were waged with Persians. And treachery was everywhere in the court. The tale is told through the voice of the daughter, Princess Jahanara. And she tells of her forbidden love for the architect, Isa. The building, the Taj Mahal, truly one of the most beautiful in the world.
jules72653 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow! I almost avoided this book because it was historical fiction, but I am so glad I dug into it. The amount of detail Shors used bordered on excessive, however, it did paint a very graphic picture of the era. I relished it for the love story which was delivered beautifully and woven seamlessly with the plot line.
amandacb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ever since reading [The Twentieth Wife] and [The Feast of Roses], I was destined to read Shores's book [Beneath a Marble Sky]. While I felt the aforementioned novels were far above BAMS in terms of style and story, BAMS is nothing to store on a bookshelf and never look at again. The story of the construction of the Taj Mahal is thrilling, fascinating, and heartbreaking.
kerinlo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book to a point. The characters are interesting and the history behind the story is compelling, but somewhere about halfway through the I lost interest in the outcome. I finished the book and am glad I did because the ending helps save the story some, but I couldn't help feeling disappointed at the end, like I'd missed something.
bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set during the 17th century, Shors' novel tells the story of the heartbroken emperor who has the Taj Mahal built in memory of his deceased wife. His brave daughter Jahanara tells the story of their family, which includes her love affair with the Taj Mahal's brilliant architect, Isa. It also discusses the family rivalries between her scholarly oldest brother and her power-hungry, evil brother. I might not have ever picked it up if my book club hadn't chosen it. I knew very little about the building of the Taj Mahal before reading it and was fascinated to learn about the culture and traditions of the people responsible for the beautiful building. There are moments that feel melodramatic, but at the same time, the stakes are high. I liked that the novel spans such a long period of time. Jahanara and Isa's love has to withstand years of turbulent challenges, which strengthens it and proves it's not a fling. I loved the character of Jahanara, though I was occasionally frustrated by the choices she made. Regardless of the decisions she made, she still showed a courage that is admirable, especially considering the times. Her dear friend and companion, a eunuch, was another wonderful character. He is loyal to the end, showing an unbelievable devotion. The book tackles the building of an icon, a love affair, persecution of women, religious fanaticism and family feuds, which is a lot for a novel. Shors doesn't over reach his ability though and the book is a fast-paced read. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoy historical fiction with a great story.
Laurenbdavis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an enjoyable book, essentially a commercial-fiction love story in an exotic setting. If read from that point of view it's lots of fun, with enough intrigue, romance, and suspense to keep one turning the pages. John Shors knows how to pace a book and his writing is fine, with lots of lovely descriptions. However, don't expect much historical accuracy here. Read it as a sort of epic fantasy, based VERY loosely on historical facts.
lexxa83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book. Sometimes I find that historic fiction tends to drag, however this book moved quickly and brought the reader's imagination along with it. I also liked that there was discussion about the lives of the characters after the main events took place. I always love when novels tie up loose ends so you aren't wondering what happened next. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves both romance and historic fiction.