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Extended Audio Sample The Twentieth Wife Audiobook, by Indu Sundaresan Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.81 out of 53.81 out of 53.81 out of 53.81 out of 53.81 out of 5 3.81 (42 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Indu Sundaresan Narrator: Sneha Mathan Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2009 ISBN: 9781455185559
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An enchanting historical epic of grand passion and adventure, this debut novel tells the captivating story of one of India’s most controversial empresses, a woman whose brilliance and determination trumped myriad obstacles and whose love shaped the course of the Mughal Empire.

Skillfully blending the textures of historical reality with the rich and sensual imaginings of a timeless fairy tale, The Twentieth Wife sweeps listeners up in Mehrunnisa’s embattled love with Prince Salim, and in the bedazzling destiny of a woman, a legend in her own time, who was all but lost to history until now.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A sweeping, carefully researched tale of desire, sexual mores, and political treachery set against the backdrop of sixteenth and seventeenth century India…describing life in the royal court in convincing detail and employing authentic period terms throughout.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Sundaresan writes in the great tradition of the Indian epic, an art she carries forward with grace and brilliance…A remarkably readable book.”

    Library Journal

  • “[Sundaresan] regales us with a wonderfully plausible story shimmering with saffron and splendor. Sneha Mathan’s rich voice, with its depth and variety of accents, tinged with a hint of British India, sweeps us into this exotic world. She portrays a Mehrunnisa who is sweet yet who is capable of being devious when necessary. The sequel is out, but not yet in audio. What a treat if Mathan were to read it.”

    AudioFile

  • “The narration is splendid, and the large number of exotic-to-Western-ears Hindi words, names, and phrases shine in Mathan’s deep, rich, beautiful voice with a British inflection.” 

    Kliatt

  • “Mathan smoothly indicates the sophistication of Mughal Empire royals and the few who are qualified to serve them. Her range deepens resonantly when reading the male characters; she is especially convincing in the role of Prince Salim, who is worshiped by the bold and witty Mehrunnisa. Mathan also does a good job with the many Indian words that comprise the text.”

    Booklist

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Naila | 2/20/2014

    " Beautifully written! Sundesaran weaves the story with such vivid detail. I felt like I was there! Would highly recommend this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Simone | 2/18/2014

    " This book was given to me by a friend and recommended. Once I got into the book it read really quickly. It's your typical historical fiction with a heavy romance thread. I have to admit I think the book's title gives the eventual ending away, so there's not much suspense. Still the world of the book, 15th century India, full of harems, emperor's, jewels and fighting is an interesting one, richly and lushly detailed in the book. It's a fun read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sheri | 2/13/2014

    " This was a really wonderful and easy read. Lots of entanglement, suspense and interesting characters. However, it went on and on. If the author had brought it to a conclusion earlier, I would have rated it much higher. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 April Ann | 2/3/2014

    " The characterization was lacking, so I stopped reading this. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jan | 2/1/2014

    " Fascinating historical fiction about early India. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynda | 1/27/2014

    " Fascinating glimpse into harem life in ancient India. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Maryam Khan | 1/23/2014

    " Really enjoyed this book. Love this author's style of writing! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anjali | 1/20/2014

    " Loved this book. Good way to learn some history and read a great novel at the same time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Whitney | 1/20/2014

    " This book is really great but the second one is even better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Celeste Fritz | 1/17/2014

    " Just discussed this at book club this week. Based on a true story, it takes the reader into the lavish harem of the Mughal emperors and shows how women, despite the veil and other restrictions, can become very powerful "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Komal Shakoor | 1/10/2014

    " Great Historical Fiction! Keeps you engaged throughout the book. Indian historical fiction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Soniaelabd | 1/8/2014

    " Great historical novel filled with rich detail about moghul India. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah Joy | 1/7/2014

    " Beautifully written, sweeping historical fiction that I just couldn't put down. Diving right into the sequel, Feast of Roses. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeet | 1/1/2014

    " beautiful book...this takes you to mughal empire...you can see the sights and smell...also gives an insight to the rule of the mughals..the emporers...I really enjoyed this book...it took me to another place and I loved it....a real page turn...a must read:) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Liz | 11/22/2013

    " Interesting story...a peek into Indian history an culture. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rizwana | 11/14/2013

    " Part historical part fictional this book gives an interesting insight into the world of one of the powerful empress of the Moghul era in India. It was a great read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jodi | 11/5/2013

    " Fictional account of Mughal India pre Taj Mahal. Good story and view into the culture during the 17thC. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Soni | 10/25/2013

    " I really enjoyed this historical fiction about India during the Mogul Empire. The female characters have depth and are appropriate for their time, while still giving all the male character their own voice and view. Well written intriguing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 10/22/2013

    " It was a great book. Some slow spots and I got kind of frustrated sometimes but definitely great read!!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nikunj | 8/29/2013

    " Excellent debut by Indu Sundaresan. Immensely readable, with a lucid flow. The descriptions draw vivid imagery of the Mughal lifestyle without being too overbearing on the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aubrey | 12/31/2012

    " Fantastic book. The character development and incorporation of history was beautiful. I was so excited to read Feast of Roses when I finished this one, but was slightly disappointed. If I had a do-over I'd just read this one as the second left me feeling a bit blah. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jenni | 8/4/2012

    " Eh....it was OK. I mean, I LOVE this genre of book, and I think this subject had a lot of potential. I just don't think it was that well written. I felt like most of the book didn't even center around the main character. I'm wondering if the sequel would be better? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tracey | 7/14/2012

    " started strong, got a bit draggy, recovered and then poof it was over! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jaisette | 7/10/2012

    " LOVE IT!!! I adore books w/ stories where the woman kicks all kinds of social, economic and gender roles asses! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Molly | 6/9/2012

    " Loved this book. Historical but romantic and powerful women "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Evelyn | 4/13/2012

    " Historical fiction set in India in the 1600's. A family looses all in Persia and seeks refuge in India "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Danielle Marcelo | 3/5/2012

    " The first book by Indu that I have read, and sparked a fire for one of her biggest fans!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 2/18/2012

    " Great 15th century Indian historic fiction! Engaging and fast read. Story of the Emperor's decades long love affair who finally becomes his twentieth wife; his only marriage arranged out of deep and passionate love instead of political arrangement. Need to check out the sequel next. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Edward | 2/1/2012

    " DIANE: MUST READ! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Husna | 8/28/2011

    " One must read this book with a critical eye and mind. It is a novel, hence there is a substantial amount of fiction and perhaps to some degree, bias. However, it does present a peek into the royal settings of the Mughal Empire. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vinita | 5/22/2011

    " Takes you back in time to Mughal India....the glamor and splendor of the royal courts. It is fiction but with a strong historical background. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alicia | 5/17/2011

    " I liked it a lot. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kamayer | 5/2/2011

    " I loved this and was fascinated by the history. I don't know enough about India to know how accurate it was but it's definitely a good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Arion | 4/30/2011

    " I loved this book. Very well written. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jill | 4/29/2011

    " I LOVED this book. A must -read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rochelle | 4/13/2011

    " I found the book to be very heavy on the history, making it somewhat dry. But for some reason I kept reading it. I was invested in the main character and wanted to see what happened to her. I understand there is a sequel, but I'm not sure I'm ready for more history lessons. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Amy | 4/12/2011

    " I read this for my book club and didn't like it at all. The story was okay, but I didn't feel a connection with any of the characters so I didn't really care when things happened to them. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Smrithi | 4/8/2011

    " Interesting book and enjoyed reading the history of the mughal empire through the eyes of Salim's 20th wife...the book started off okay and got interesting towards the middle and then I didn't want it to end. I wasn't wowed by the book but it was a good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joanne | 3/18/2011

    " This should really be 3.5 stars. I learned a lot about the Mughal Empire which I liked. The story was good, I enjoyed it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gail | 3/12/2011

    " Once I got all the names straight in my head, this was a very interesting and entertaining book. A peak behind the veil in the Mughal Empire. Recommended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Soniaelabd | 3/3/2011

    " Great historical novel filled with rich detail about moghul India. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shilpa | 2/17/2011

    " I thought this book was interesting for the history it had to offer. I have visited many of the places where the book takes place, and so that was pretty cool to imagine these historic sites alive with the life of the Mogul empire court. "

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About the Author
Author Indu Sundaresan

Indu Sundaresan was born in India to a long line of storytellers. After an undergraduate degree in economics, she came to the United States for graduate school at the University of Delaware, where her passion for writing soon took over. Her first novel, The Twentieth Wife, was awarded the 2003 Washington State Book Award.

About the Narrator

Sneha Mathan spent a peripatetic childhood in India, punctuated by a short spell in the Seychelles. Now fixedly based in Seattle, she works as a voice actor and audiobook narrator. Her audiobook work has received several Earphones Awards, and she is a two-time finalist for the Audie Award.