Salman Rushdie “The Enchantress of Florence”

by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

May 5th, 2009

Salman Rushdie can be an infuriating writer, not just to the Muslim population whom he largely offended with his book “The Satanic Verses” (whose title revisits the ancient Christian myth that parts of the Koran were anonymously whispered by the devil to the Prophet Mohammed as he was tired and taking down messages from the Archangel Gabriel) but also in his varying quality of prose. Maybe it’s just personal taste, however I prefer Rushdie’s writing when it is both historically based, set in times of travel and trade and features India. Never has a writer been able to describe the aromas of Indian spices as well as Rushdie, but his works are also erratic. I am pleased then to report that “The Enchantress of Florence” is a return to form, and up there with “Midnights Children”, and “The Moors Last Sigh” as a spectacular yarn. Taking in the crafty, yet handsome, self styled “Mughal of Love”, the Mughal relates the tale of Lady Black Eyes – a woman so beautiful that she is believed to possess powers of scorcery and enchantment as men fall, besotted in her wake. We meet characters such as the skeleton, a prostitute so thin she resembles one, yet whose love-making arts make her a valued, and highly expensive escort. Lady Black Eyes too, has a servant, aptly named “The Mirror” – almost – but crucially not quite – as beautiful as she. As Shahs and Kings fall for the Lady’s sublime affections, a tale of eroticism, dark magic, and travels forced by war begin to unfold. It’s a magnificent tale, and represents Rushdie at his finest.