Book Review - Starcursed By Nandini Bajpai
Book Review - Starcursed by Nandini Bajpai
This book is about the enigmatic Leelavati, after whom the great mathematician and astronomer Bhaskaracharya named his book on arithmetic. The book Leelavati is a part of Siddhanth Shiromani, The Crest Jewel of Astronomy. Many of the verses in the book are addressed to Leelavati who according to legend, was Bhaskaracharya’s daughter. Due to a short coming in her birth chart, Leelavati was destined to remain unwed. However, her father calculated an auspicious moment for her to wed and built a water clock that would determine the exact time for her to marry. Leelavati looked into the water clock and a jewel fell from her head blocking the clock and thus the auspicious moment passed by without anyone realizing it.
This is a love story set in 12th century India. Leelavati is depicted as a strong woman who is intelligent and interested in learning all that her father has to offer. Her father recognizing her talent, allows her to teach at his observatory which is considered forward for a woman in those times. Leelavati’s parents foster her love for learning as they feel that it would be in her best interest to have that avenue open as her marital prospects do not look promising due to her birth chart.
Leelavati is in love with her childhood friend, the son of the Nagarseth and she does not want to put his life in jeopardy by marrying him. He is eager to marry her inspite of her birth chart but she is in a dilemma regarding how much weightage should she lay on her birth chart and whether to go ahead with his proposal.
Bajpai has created a delightful young lady in Leelavati - charming, witty, smart, adventurous and full of joie de vivre. The book takes the reader to Ujjayani, the city Leelavati is from and gives a glimpse into the lives of the people in those times - the pronounced caste system, the sharp distinction between men and women’s roles, the societal practices and much more. The love story is narrated with great sensitivity and stirs the reader. The book is filled with excitement all throughout and there is never a dull moment. Bajpai does a great job in arousing the reader’s curiosity regarding whether fate will allow the young hearts to unite. This YA book is written in simple, mellifluous language which makes it a pleasure to read.
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