Book Review: The Mulberry Courtesan

Title: The Mulberry Courtesan
Author: Sikeena Karmali
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Source: Review Copy
Publisher: Aleph Book Company

When I opened my #bookmail package and saw the publishers name – Aleph Book Company, I was shocked, and then when I saw the book, I was on cloud number nine! I had no idea about it and it took me by surprise. Oh, my dear lord, I was waiting for an opportune moment to read this book, but I couldn’t wait any longer. Read on to see what I actually think about this book, The Mulberry Courtesan by Sikeena Karmali!


In 1857, the shadows are falling thick and fast on what is left of the Mughal empire. The last emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, is a broken, bitter man in his eighties who has retreated into religion and poetry. Zafar’s empire extends no further than the precincts of his grand palace, the Red Fort in Delhi, but this hasn’t prevented numerous court intrigues and conspiracies from flourishing within the Lal Qila; these involve the emperor’s wives, children, courtiers, hangers-on and English functionaries among others. Flung into this poison pit is Laale, a young woman from an Afghan noble family, abducted from her home in the mountains and sold into the Mughal emperor’s court as a courtesan. Fiery, independent and beautiful, the ‘mulberry courtesan’ captures the ageing emperor’s heart, giving him hope and happiness in his last years. Told against the backdrop of India’s great revolt of 1857 and the last days of the Mughal empire, The Mulberry Courtesan is an epic tale of romance, tragedy, courage and adventure.


If there is a word bigger than ‘LOVE’, please let me know in the comment section! Dear, dear, if only I could show you all HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS BOOK! Love is a very tiny emotion for this book, it’s ‘Flabagasted’ or ‘Bookgasm’. I don’t think so any book has left such an impact on me that have been sent to me, till now. The Mulberry Courtesan is a package altogether, you will find everything, be it a beautiful book cover or the title, story, characters, scenery, smoothness, anything and everything is present in every single chapter, page, paragraph and line.

The description of Afghan is so breathtaking, I actually felt I was a part of the entire scenery. The way her abduction has been written, you feel yourself to be Laale, I could feel the force, the scream, the anger. The journey she goes through after her abduction, she becomes someone else altogether. After killing her rapist, she reaches Hindukush and ends up being sold to a Nawab who presents her as a gift to none other than, Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Khanum Laale becomes the exclusive courtesan of the Emperor and their relationship takes an unusual shape when both of them fall in love, an 80-year man, and a 20-year old girl. The political and social life of the Mughal Empire is under havoc due to the influence of British East India Company. All these lead to Zafar and Laale’s hidden marriage and the arrival of Zafar and Laale’s son, the last unknown Mughal.

Characterisation of Laale, oh my beauty, she is honest, she is blunt, she is beautiful, she is graceful, she is a person who has been through a lot but won’t give up on her love. On the other hand, I had no idea about the character of the Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. As per my study, I assumed he was a cruel and harsh person, but this book changed my entire thought process. The book talks about social, religious, political scandals as well as conspiracies. It is a beautiful book and truly takes you to 1854 Hindustan! A MUST READ for everyone especially history lovers, I cannot express how much I love and adore this book. Thank you so much Sikeena Karmali for writing such a mesmerizing book!



bewitchingly paranoid, mischief

One Reply to “Book Review: The Mulberry Courtesan”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s