The story of the shy and dimpled bahu who endeared herself to Indira Gandhi by her patent disinterest in politics, content to cook and raise her children, adjusting uncomplainingly to her husband’s new political career and her dramatic transformation into an ambitious political leader determined to be the next prime minister is a fascinating story at any time. But Rasheed Kidwai’s Sonia—A Biography comes at a time when not just Congressmen would pay a fortune to read the mind of the enigmatic Congress president and, more importantly, find out if she has what it takes to lead them to the polls next year.
Sonia’s shyness—she was so shy that she didn’t turn up for her first meeting with Indira—won over her future mother-in-law, who knew only too well what it felt like to be paralysingly shy. But others saw her differently. "She was always a little manipulative," recalled a nun in the college she attended in Giaveno, Italy, adding shrewdly, "she should do well in politics". At least one other person shared the nun’s perception: husband Rajiv, who inevitably took his political cares into the bedroom and discovered in Sonia not only a receptive ear but a shrewd advisor, able to judge those around him with surprising sharpness. Word soon got around and she was dubbed "Noor Jehan of Turin".