This is a book that recreates history with beauty, love, loss, anger, deception and redemption.

Book Review ~ Ambapali by Tanushree Podder

• INSIGHT: Ambapali was discovered by the royal gardener, in the shade of a mango tree, abandoned as an infant. With the royal blessing, the gardener and his wife bring up Ambapali as their own. Her love for dance is nurtured under the care of Suvarnasena, a former court dancer of great repute. This teacher abuses the trust bestowed on her by her pupil by throwing Ambapali into a competition she was neither prepared for nor willing to participate in. Ambapali’s skill and beauty enchants the royal court and she is immediately appointed as the court dancer against her wishes. This marks the beginning of her troubles and the end of her innocence.

• REVIEW: Tanushree Podder has breathed life into the corridors of erstwhile Vaishali, describing with vivid imagery, the smells, customs and sounds of the era. She skilfully paints a picture of great pathos through the protagonist, Ambapali, but she doesn’t make her destitute. Ambapali, despite her circumstances, sets boundaries for herself, speaks up for herself, identifies emotional blackmail and calls it out. She has the emotional maturity to recognise friendship despite the friend marrying Ambapali’s lover. Suvarnasena is exquisitely carved out of malice, jealousy, an absurdly inflated ego, treachery, deception and a disillusionment that her actions are in Ambapali’s best interest. This is a very interesting story steeped in drama and the protagonist’s exceptional strength.


  1. Beautiful cover.
  2. A beautiful story that is both educational and riveting.
  3. Strong, well rounded characters.

• WEAKNESS: The scene set up is long and the story takes time to build but that is to be expected with new world building.

• BEST QUOTE: “An army without a devoted leader is a mob, not an army.”

• TARGET READERS: This book is a gift to fiction/ historical fiction/ strong female-driven story lovers.

• GENRE: Fiction/ Historical drama/ Royal intrigue

• Rating– 4.4/5

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