At the Turn of the Tide: The Life and Times of Maharani Setu Lakshmi Bayi, the Last Queen of Travancore

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Lakshmi Raghunandan, 1995 - Kerala (India) - 565 pages

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I think, for my generation of Keralites, who were born immediately after the end of the Maharaja's rule, this book gives a lot of insight into the palace politics of the 1930s, '40s and '50s
. Surprisingly, very little is available in print on these matters of those times. Though the author is totally partisan on her views, it helps us to get a good understanding of the palace intrigues. I wish someone had written a book on the other side as well. Lastly, the book is very poorly edited and it takes an effort to read through this. If there is a second edition planned, please focus on this. Thank you LR for presenting your side of the case. 

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The author, Lakshmi Raghunandan tries to write a good book on the Senior Maharani of Travancore, Sethu Lakshmi Bayi who became Regent ruler for her minor nephew & heir to the throne, Maharajah
Sree Chithira Thirunal in 1924. But i don't think much success can be attributed to Raghunandan's effort.
To me, this book appears too congested as she tried to add too much into too little space. This book would have become great if she had concentrated on the reign of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi instead of giving too much space to include palace intrigues & gossips which is synonymous with any Royal House. Like every other royal families in the world, power struggles ruled the day in Travancore as well. So a little disappointed with this book.
Being from former Travancore, I too know of the many palace intrigues of the day. The consort of Sethu Lakshmi Bayi, Rama Varma of Harippad, was an extremely unpopular man during her reign & there were even well documented protests against him in Travancore; this fact is completely ignored/twisted in his favour by the author in this book. I felt she spend too much time emotionally arguing about the many decisions made by the Maharani or her consort, but she simply fails to see the other side of the argument. Then i came to know that Raghunandan is actually their grand daughter. May be that is why she failed to remain neutral when it came to the many incidents of palace intrigues and power struggles. An argument can be made to look positive, simply by not producing the documents or not writing about the other side of the story. I felt this is what Raghunandan tried to through out the book.
There are also some documents which shows the rule during the royal era. To those who are looking for royal intrigues or such stuff, this book is a treasure house. For me, not so. Worth for a single. read.

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