While reading The Enchantress of Florence, I became very curious about Rusdhie’s portrayal of Jodha. I started to doubt whether she even existed. Similar doubts are raised in Wikipedia’s article on Mariam-uz-Zamani. The movie Jodhaa-Akbar did nothing to allay my skepticism.
It turns out that Chapters 3 and 4 of Rusdhie’s novel, in which Jodha is first introduced, form a self-contained short story that ran as a piece in the New Yorker. For the reader who wants to avoid spoilers, here are the first two sentences of each of these chapters, which provide no information about the plot and are merely intoxicating:
At dawn the haunting sandstone palaces of the new “victory city” of Akbar the Great looked as if they were made of red smoke. Most cities start giving the impression of being eternal almost as soon as they are born, but Sikri would always look like a mirage.
And here again with bright silks flying like banners from red palace windows was Sikri, shimmering in the heat like an opium vision. Here at last, with its strutting peacocks and dancing girls, was home.