Rushdie, Salman. The Enchantress of Florence. 2008.
I picked up The Enchantress of Florence when on vacation with dreol at Rehoboth Beach, Deleware. While I'm a pretty huge Rushdie fan (I've read Haroun and the Sea of Stories and Satanic Verses, in that order), I wasn't intending on picking up a book while there - but there were so many bookstores and the cover was so pretty. And it had Florence, and an enchantress, and it was taking place during the Renaissance, and it was also about India (because Rushdie is almost always about India), and there was nothing not to make the book a fun story. So I picked it up.
It took me some time to get to the book and even more time to finish it, but over the past few days, I read voraciously. Rushdie's always had a grip on language that I've been extremely jealous about - this book is no exception, and I would have been delighted to read it if only to see how he strings his words and sentences together. But there is more to it, of course. Enchantress reminds me of an old-style and grown up fairy tale, where crazy (often unfair) things happen and characters assume that magic exists. Also, there's sex! (That's the grown up part.) Characters are surprisingly rounded within their fairy tale capacities, and I like them, but I found myself not getting too attached - probably also because of the feeling of old-style fairy tales combined with power struggles from Back In The Day. Get too attached, and I'd be devastated or disappointed.
Enchantress seems fractured and almost confused, but the whole story is woven together by the end. Stories are told inside of stories. There are about five or six major subjects discussed; I found the most predominating one also the one that seems barely touched on for the first third of the novel - that of what a woman has to do in order to make her place in a world dominated by men. Mind, this woman's also an enchantress... well, probably an enchantress... magic's a funny thing. But it helps. Sometimes.
Rushdie's done his research concerning the Renaissance, Florence, India, Akbar, Machiavelli, women... he even put a bibliography in the back of the book. It's apparently his most researched book thus far, and it shows - at the same time, he's completely unafraid of tossing details aside to insert more magic and make way for his story. That makes for some good reading. At least on my end.
Next (which I've already finished): Harry Potter and the Chmaber of Secrets, by J. K. Rowling