The Dancer and the Raja by Javier Moro
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Javier Moro’s The Dancer and the Raja is a work of historical fiction that tells the story of young Anita Delgado, a Spanish dancer who becomes a princess of India in the early 1900s. Based on the real-life story of Anita Delgado and her marriage to Maharaja Sir Jagatjit Singh Bahadur of Kapurthala, Jagatjit first sees Anita while she is performing with her sister on stage and tries to initiate a courtship. Although she refuses his advances at first, she is encouraged by her family and friends to first reply to his messages, and eventually to marry. Once in India, Anita becomes part of a world that she knows nothing about. She must learn the ways of Indian culture and how to survive as a the wife of a raja when many won’t even acknowledge her marriage as legitimate.
I was completely fascinated by this book. Knowing nothing about Anita Delgado’s story, I was so incredibly interested to learn more and more about her life as the wife of a maharaja. The world of tiger hunts, glittering jewels and gemstones, harems and elephants was dazzling and Moro did a fantastic job in creating this world for his reader in great historical context, while keeping it interesting to read. He structured the novel in such a way where he was able to provide the necessary background information to its readers so that it fit seamlessly into the overall story. I felt like I was learning so much without even realizing it and I love when that happens!
While not very well-known in the United States, Javier Moro is one of the most successful bestselling writers in the Spanish language. Over the next couple of months, both The Dancer and the Raja and Moro’s The Red Sari will be made available in English for the first time around the world by digital publisher Open Road Media. In order to enhance my reading experience of The Dancer and the Raja, the publisher emailed me an interview that was done with Moro that was really interesting to read. You can find and read this interview by clicking here. While I haven’t read Moro’s The Red Sari yet, based upon how much I enjoyed The Dancer and the Raja, I’ve already added it to my reading list!
I would definitely recommend The Dancer and the Raja to anyone who is interested in learning about a world different than their own, or for someone who generally enjoys historical fiction (or as Moro puts it in his interview, dramatized history).