Read from August 23 to September 18, 2014
This was an interesting true story about Anita Delgado, a young Spanish dancer, who becomes an object of desirability that the Maharaja of Kapurthala must possess. Anita is much younger than the Maharaja when they meet but her parents are in a difficult financial position and the Maharaja offers a price for Anita's love that is too great to turn down. Anita agrees to marry the Indian Prince as long as she can be married in Europe first, have her own home where she will not be expected to live in the zenana, but will live as a European wife. Against his family and government wishes, the Maharaja of Kapurthala marries Anita Delgado, making her his Spanish princess. After a year of living in Europe, secretly married, Anita becomes pregnant. Naturally, Anita is terrified of the unknown changes that will soon occur once she arrives in India, an Eastern world she has only imagined. The Spanish princess will never be accepted by the Maharaja's family and the government will never acknowledge Delgado as the Maharani of Kapurthala. It is against Eastern traditional values and the government does not recognize mixed racial marriages. After all, it is the late 1800's, and India is still governed by England. Most importantly, the Prince is already married to others and he has gone against religious custom by not living with his established wives and concubine. The Maharaja's wives feel neglected by their husbands choice and his refusal to return home. He is besotted with his new wife and the wives will make sure Anita's life in India is one of loneliness and filled with difficulties. Anita will never be accepted in the zenana and Anita will always feel as if the other wives are plotting against her.
Although Anita was lonely in India, she did come to love many things about her new world. The Maharaja treated her wonderfully, showering Anita with beautiful jewels, jewels that would become Anitas source of pleasure and a sort of escapism. While the government may have spurned her, the subjects of India were fascinated by the Spanish dancer and she was able to charm others by her warmth, gentle nature, and kindness. Many of the other maharaja's of India were taken with the lovely European woman. The newspapers of the times were fascinated by Anita as well. Her husband relied upon her as a traveling companion, something his Indian wives were forbidden to do. Anita was also chosen by the Maharaja, over the other wives, to plan important events and the weddings of his sons. Anita enjoyed being the favored wife. It did not take long for Anita to grow accustomed to the fabulous lifestyle in India. However, the heat was unbearable and she was excruciatingly lonely most of the time and she missed her family.
The first World War brought about many changes and Anita becomes a great supporter of the soldiers from India. She saw to it that the men had warmer uniforms able to withstand the European climate, even taking it upon herself to sew the necessary suits herself. She and the Maharaja visited the frontlines of their Eastern soldiers and this earned both great respect. The Maharaja was a great contributor to the war efforts and was recognized for his generosity. But Anita will suffer the greatest loss due to the effects of war and it will send her into a horrific depression, where she will be at her weakest and most loneliest. Anita will make choices that will forever alter the course of her life and the lives of those she loves, alienating her greatest supporters. The Spanish princess will forever become a part of history, a part of history that was steeped in tradition, power, riches, and boundaries. Anita Delgado, the Spanish Dancer, will always be remembered as a fascinating woman of long forgotten times.
Thanks to NetGalley, Javier Moro, and Open Road Media for the awesome opportunity to read this wonderful portion of a history I had very little knowledge of. I thoroughly enjoyed every page. I found this book to be highly informative, creatively written and told, and I sincerely thank you for sharing the story, history, and traditions. :)