Salman Rushdie’s The Enchantress of Florence (Random House, 2009) is perhaps the most beautifully crafted book in terms of the language and the intricate storytelling that takes place among its main characters. However, it is a book written by a man who attempts to write about the burgeoning power of one princess known as Angelica, Qora Koz, and the Lady Black Eyes. In fact, all the women depicted in this magical and haunting tale within talesare introduced and discussed from the perspective of male characters. And this is problematic, because this masculine gaze and knowledge of women is limited and limits the potential of female characters within the narrative.
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 with questions of belief, desire, and the treachery of his sons, and the equally sensual city of Florence during the High Renaissance, where Niccolò Machiavelli takes a starring role as he learns, the hard way, about the true brutality of power. Profoundly moving and completely absorbing, The Enchantress of Florence is a dazzling book full of wonders