Published by Penguin Books, Rani
explores the gradual transformation of an intelligent girl Manikarnika of Varanasi, into the queen of Jhansi, Rani Lakshmibai.She leaves her father's palace at thirteen, to become the wife of Raja Gangadhar Rao. From the start, she is a spirited young queen , who unlike her predecessor, the first wife of Raja Gangadhar, takes interest in the affairs of the state.She questions the British policies and certainly not shy to voice her opinions.
Consisting of 45 chapters followed by an Epilogue, Rani
upholds the unputdownable spirit of the Rani of Jhansi , while facing stiff opposition from the British officers at Calcutta headquarters, who refuse to acknowledge the adopted son of Jhansi ki Rani, Prince Damodar , in following the Doctrine of Lapse.Major Robert Ellis, appears as one of the few trusted friends of Lakshmibai, with whom she finds momentary release from her tensed life, but their love remains unsatiated as both belong to different cultural and political backgrounds.They enjoy the travel on their horseback beside the Betwa and the paintings that Ellis completes on Jhansi's landscapes.
Captain Skene who follows Ellis to Jhansi finds a momentary shelter in Jhansi fort when the rebellion of the Indian Sepoys have reached the gates of Jhansi.Rani Lakshmibai tries her best to persuade the rebels from harming the Captain, his family, the missionaries and the orphans, but her request remains unheeded.
Jhokhan Bag witnesses a cold blooded murder of the group and the Rani remains behind the window as a helpless spectator of the events. The ailing Moropant , Manikarnika's father, is also a helpless spectator. And he witnesses the gradual death of the beliefs that he himself instilled in little Mani, regarding the even handedness of the British and the soft skills required for maintaining an equilibrium among the natives and the British .The Rani takes on a military garb to defend her Jhansi and answer to the call of the raging times.And she leads Nanasahib's forces when she faces General Rose's army "on the scrubby plains of Kotah- ki -Sarai.She is reminded of Ganga devi who sacrificed herself to protect her children when she gets injured with a musket ball on her shoulder.She remembers her subjects at Jhansi who are left without a queen to look over them.All together, this excellent piece of work is a pride for all who have got an opportunity to go through it.