Wednesday, February 28, 2018

#BookReview: THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL by Sujata Massey

Summary: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes women’s legal rights especially important to her.

Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on? Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X—meaning she probably couldn’t even read the document. The Farid widows live in full purdah—in strict seclusion, never leaving the women’s quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate, and realizes her instincts were correct when tensions escalate to murder. Now it is her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that no innocent women or children are
in further danger.

Review: I loved this book like Oprah loves bread! Historical fiction with a first to ever do it character? Yes, ma'am! The Widows of Malabar Hill contains two mysteries, making this a must read: a murder on Malabar Hill and Perveen Mistry herself.

Set in 1920s Bombay, a time when being a woman wasn't necessarily an advantage, Perveen uses it to her advantage. Religious law prevents men from being alone or sometimes in the presence of women who aren't related to them. So it falls on Perveen to speak with the three widows of a recently deceased wealthy businessman. While the mystery of what has happened at the house would be enough of a story, the mystery of Perveen is a bonus.

A mysterious figure stalking Perveen holds the key to her back story and explains how she came to be studying law at Oxford. The introduction of Oxford also introduces her best friend, a spoiled, wealthy white woman whose father is employed by the British government in India. It was nice for Perveen to have a side kick to reminisce with, which allowed readers a glimpse into her history, but ugh! Go away, colonizers!

Between Perveen's history and the widow's mystery, I couldn't stop turning the pages (or swiping my screen). I was excited to find the author intends to bring us more of Perveen in a series of books. The only thing that would make this better would a TV series.

400 p.
Published: January 2018

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