By the time Queen Victoria slipped the Mountain of Light diamond on her wrist, claiming it for England, the gem had traveled around the world, changing hands over the centuries from one ruler to another in Persia, Afghanistan, and India.
The fascinating story of this 105-carat diamond opens in 1830, when the Indian Maharaja and founder of the Sikh empire Ranjit Singh takes possession of the massive jewel that has been passed from man to man, king to king, and emperor to emperor, through bloodshed and destruction, since the 1200s. But India in the nineteenth century is a very different place. Now the British Empire has claimed territories all across the country and the colonization of India takes root. When Ranjit Singh dies, four of his sons are slaughtered in wars with the British, and the diamond is left to Prince Dalip Singh, a six-year-old child. The British governor-general orders that the Mountain of Light be secreted out of India in 1850, and the teenage-king Dalip Singh follows the diamond to London to officially present it to the queen as a spoil of the Sikh War. He is feted and petted by the British monarchy for a long while—until he realizes that all that Britain gives him cannot make up for the loss of his country and its celebrated diamond.
In her inimitable trademark style, Indu Sundaresan’s The Mountain of Light ($16.00) is a wondrous and historically rich tale, as clear and as dazzling as a diamond itself.
Indu Sundaresan was born in India and came to the US for graduate school at the University of Delaware. She is the author of two acclaimed novels, The Twentieth Wife and The Feast of Roses.
From the internationally bestselling author of "The Twentieth Wife," a novel based on the tumultuous history of a legendary 186-carat diamond originating in India and the men and women who possessed it.