Adventures in Reading

Fiction: The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie

“Language upon a silvered tongue affords enchantment enough.”

My first introduction to Salman Rushdie was through The Satanic Versus, though in hindsight I don’t think I really got what was going on in the novel. So when his new novel The Enchantress of Florence came out last month I decided to give Mr. Rushdie another try and I loved it.

The Enchantress of Florence is a central point with various other stories spiraling from it or, to take a description from the text, a sun with heavenly bodies orbiting it. A mysterious man appears in the Mogul Empire with a terrible secret and a secret so powerful that if anyone but the emperor hears it they will perish. It takes the length of the novel to fully reveal the secret though throughout the book the reading is illuminated by stories circling this secret. The Enchantress of Florence is a physical and metaphysical adventure story with crisscrossing story lines.

Rushdie’s writing style throughout The Enchantress of Florence has a lyrical quality expressed through some lengthy sentence structures and the story is studded with pockets of philosophy and religion explored from a multitude of characters. The characters are wide ranging from emperors to enchantresses, Italian noble men to whores, and god’s on earth to a woman birthed from the imagination of the King of Kings.

Gender is a central plot of the novel and it’s interesting how Rushdie intertwines men relaying the story of women in an often misogynistic culture. However, throughout the book, and reflected in the title, women weave a powerful force through intelligence, beauty, conniving, sex, destruction and so forth. However, gender relationships are not only explored through power but also love and androgyny representing both male and female powers.

Rushdie is an expert at scumbling themes and giving a reader a complex and thorough story.

And other reviews at Asylum, S. Krishna’s Books and Shelf Love.