The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry, #1)
Bombay, 1921: 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 her especially devoted to championing and protecting women's rights. Mistry Law is handling the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen goes through the papers, she notices something strange: all three have signed over their inheritance to a charity. What will they live on if they forefeit what their husband left them? Perveen is suspicious. The Farid widows live in purdah: 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 about the will were correct when tensions escalate to murder. It's her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that nobody is in further danger.

The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry, #1) Details

TitleThe Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry, #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 9th, 2018
PublisherSoho Press
ISBN-139781616957780
Rating
GenreMystery, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Cultural, India

The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry, #1) Review

  • Rhiannon Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    The first book of 2018 that I will be raving to everyone about!Read my full review here: https://ivoryowlreviews.blogspot.com/...
  • Leslie
    January 1, 1970
    Perveen Mistry, first female lawyer in Bombay in 1921, takes on a case that leads to investigation into murder. Being female is in many ways a negative in this time and in this place--except for the doors that it opens for Perveen in this particular instance. A novel that combines culture, religion, mystery, history and women's rights, this is a strong first in a new series that features a compelling heroine in a lovely family.
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  • Mainlinebooker
    January 1, 1970
    When you can learn from a book as well as be entertained, it is a novel that deserves attention. Sujata Massey has accomplished this in what I hope will be the first in a series set in Bombay and Calcutta India. Peppered with Indian words(don't worry, there is a glossary) and woven around Parsi (Zoroastrian) beliefs, I felt submerged into a world that I knew somewhat about but was fascinated how this religion's beliefs engulfed womens' lives. Perveen Mistry,is an unusual barrister in 1921 Bombay When you can learn from a book as well as be entertained, it is a novel that deserves attention. Sujata Massey has accomplished this in what I hope will be the first in a series set in Bombay and Calcutta India. Peppered with Indian words(don't worry, there is a glossary) and woven around Parsi (Zoroastrian) beliefs, I felt submerged into a world that I knew somewhat about but was fascinated how this religion's beliefs engulfed womens' lives. Perveen Mistry,is an unusual barrister in 1921 Bombay-the first female to fill this role although she is not allowed to be in the courtroom. However, while working in her father's practice, she interviews three Muslim women who observe purdah and want to settle their husband's estate. A male caretaker has been appointed to aide the women but his motives are questionable . When visiting, a murder occurs which becomes the premise of the book along with Perveen's marriage. A delightful look at a slice of society that is not known to many in the West,with strong geographical details ,an engaging mystery, and great historical details.
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  • Yoana
    January 1, 1970
    A purely fantastic summer read that has mystery, romance, drama, friendship and strife. Set in 1920s Bombay (and briefly in Calcutta), it follows the life story and current work of Perveen Mistry, Bombay's first woman lawyer. While she's investigating a suspicious case wherein three Muslim widows have declared they want to give up all of their inheritance in favour of the family charity fund, Perveen gets more than she's bargained for, including (view spoiler)[a murder committed minutes after sh A purely fantastic summer read that has mystery, romance, drama, friendship and strife. Set in 1920s Bombay (and briefly in Calcutta), it follows the life story and current work of Perveen Mistry, Bombay's first woman lawyer. While she's investigating a suspicious case wherein three Muslim widows have declared they want to give up all of their inheritance in favour of the family charity fund, Perveen gets more than she's bargained for, including (view spoiler)[a murder committed minutes after she's left the widows' zenana after their first private consultation with her. (hide spoiler)]Parallel to her investigation of the case, we get the story of her past and how she ended up a single woman working a man's job at her father's law firm. I found this part way more engrossing - it describes the fate of her first love and offers some fascinating insights into Parsi culture and practices that were still around in the 1920s. It's akin to a family saga, with detailed yet easy descriptions of home life and a sensitive exploration of (view spoiler)[the fragile and delicate relationships between a new bride and her in-laws. (hide spoiler)]The mystery isn't that exciting and the writing is very accessible, but you can tell instantly the author is very talented. She builds the fictional world on a foundation of rich local detail, including a barrage of Indian (mostly Hindi and Gujarati) words, architectural specifics, food, holidays, traditions, modes of communication, etc. 1920s Bombay comes alive in the narrative and it's a pleasure to explore.I may be biased though because Mumbai is my all-time favourite city in the whole wide world.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    The writing was engaging and the worldbuilding and characters were interesting, but alas, this was not for me.1) Massive flashbacks sprinkled throughout. I can see how the unpeeling-the-onion effect can appeal to authors, but as a reader I almost always find that they interrupt the flow.2) I'm not a huge lit fic/women's lit fan, and that was the genre the flashbacks were written in. The historical and cultural stuff was interesting, but I'd rather read non-fic for that content.3) I'm not a huge The writing was engaging and the worldbuilding and characters were interesting, but alas, this was not for me.1) Massive flashbacks sprinkled throughout. I can see how the unpeeling-the-onion effect can appeal to authors, but as a reader I almost always find that they interrupt the flow.2) I'm not a huge lit fic/women's lit fan, and that was the genre the flashbacks were written in. The historical and cultural stuff was interesting, but I'd rather read non-fic for that content.3) I'm not a huge fan of mysteries because there's often not enough character or world-building. But when I do read mysteries, I actually enjoy the locked-door trope, so this should have suited me. I think that I may have found the mystery here more interesting, if the story itself hadn't been so jumbled from the flashbacks.Review based on galley copy received from the publisher. Skipped big chunks in the middle, so calling this a DNF, no rating.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    I actually can't believe how much I enjoyed this book! It's not like me to be so engaged in chick lit that includes a flashback whirlwind romantic twist, but somehow this amateur sleuth mystery novel managed to keep my attention and actually care about the characters I was reading about. The premise and culture this novel explores is as fascinating as it is foreign and I am absolutely looking forward to the next installment!
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  • OLT
    January 1, 1970
    It's 1921 in Bombay, India. Perveen Mistry, Oxford graduate in law, now works at her father's law firm. Of course, it being 1921 India and Perveen being a woman, she is only allowed to work behind the scenes, contracts, wills, document work, nothing high profile. Perveen is especially interested in working to protect women's rights, not only because she has faced discrimination in her studies but also because she was the victim of an exceptionally unhappy early marriage to a man she is now legal It's 1921 in Bombay, India. Perveen Mistry, Oxford graduate in law, now works at her father's law firm. Of course, it being 1921 India and Perveen being a woman, she is only allowed to work behind the scenes, contracts, wills, document work, nothing high profile. Perveen is especially interested in working to protect women's rights, not only because she has faced discrimination in her studies but also because she was the victim of an exceptionally unhappy early marriage to a man she is now legally separated from. (We learn about this troubled relationship in chapters which take us back to 1916-1918.)The Mistry family is Zoroastrian or Parsi. Parsis make up only a small percentage of India's extremely varied ethnic and religious composition. They migrated to India from Persia to escape persecution by Persian Muslims probably in the 9th century or so. Although a small minority, Parsis have made great contributions to India's development, and Perveen's family is no exception, with a well-regarded construction company now being run by her brother and a prestigious law firm owned by her father.And that law firm is where we find Perveen working as the story begins. She has been assigned the job of executor of the will of a wealthy Muslim mill owner with three widows. Perveen finds it suspicious that the three widows have signed over their inheritances to a charity, one signing with an X, and the other two seemingly signing with the same handwriting. Since the widows live in purdah or strict seclusion, not leaving their quarters or speaking to men, it's up to Perveen to talk to them and uncover the truth. Things heat up when the man appointed guardian to the widows is murdered and, in addition, the daughter of one widow disappears.But, IMO, the mystery is the least compelling aspect of this book. The real story here is life in Bombay, India, of the time, a place where ethnicities and religions and cultures collide, where women are second-class citizens and family life may be structured to confine some of its members and limit their freedom.The author brings 1920s India to colorful life, with lots of period detail and well-drawn and varied characters. You can learn a lot here without the plot being bogged down in too much detail that it detracts from the story.Sujata Massey is the author of the successful Rei Shimura mystery series set in Japan. Now we have this new Perveen Mistry series set in British Raj India to look forward to.
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  • Donna
    January 1, 1970
    Perveen Mistry, is the first woman lawyer in Bombay, India. Born into a family of attorneys, Perveen rises above prejudicial difficulties in her schooling and a shattering of her heart to become a successful young solicitor with her father. One of their cases involves a complex situation of three widows whose husband has just passed away. The problem is deep and leads the reader into an intriguing story of the Parsis Zoroastrian culture in India during the early 1900's. Sujata Massey has the tal Perveen Mistry, is the first woman lawyer in Bombay, India. Born into a family of attorneys, Perveen rises above prejudicial difficulties in her schooling and a shattering of her heart to become a successful young solicitor with her father. One of their cases involves a complex situation of three widows whose husband has just passed away. The problem is deep and leads the reader into an intriguing story of the Parsis Zoroastrian culture in India during the early 1900's. Sujata Massey has the talented gift of turning descriptive language into a lush, rich 1920's India that showcases tempting smells, crowded, bustling streets in Bombay and a story that is so rich in culture that I couldn't put it down. I have truly never read an author like Sujata Massey who has the talent to develop characters that are living and breathing on the pages, characters that you love or hate, but regardless. you know them well. I am a big fan of Sujata Massey after meeting her at a library convention years ago that lead me to begin reading her outstanding Rei Shimura series of mysteries. The series starts with The Salaryman's Wife and I have read every book that she has written since then. After reading The Sleeping Dictionary, I didn't think that she could get any better. Oh was I wrong, this book is one of the best that I've read in years. Wish I could give it 10 stars but I'll just say that if you love to be immersed in another culture and love mysteries with strong characters, THIS is the book! The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey will be available January 9, 2018 by Soho Crime/Random House Publishers. An egalley of this book was made available by the publisher in exchange for a honest review.
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  • Jill Meyer
    January 1, 1970
    Good historical fiction can both instruct and entertain the reader. Sujata Massey's new novel, "the Widows of Malabar Hill, certainly does both. Set mainly in Bombay (now Mumbai) and a bit in Calcutta (now Kolkata), the book goes back and forth between 1915 and 1921. The main character, Perveen Mistry, is the Oxford-educated daughter of a busy Bombay solicitor. She is the first female solicitor in India (the character is modeled after a real woman) and works with her father. Perveen has a failed Good historical fiction can both instruct and entertain the reader. Sujata Massey's new novel, "the Widows of Malabar Hill, certainly does both. Set mainly in Bombay (now Mumbai) and a bit in Calcutta (now Kolkata), the book goes back and forth between 1915 and 1921. The main character, Perveen Mistry, is the Oxford-educated daughter of a busy Bombay solicitor. She is the first female solicitor in India (the character is modeled after a real woman) and works with her father. Perveen has a failed marriage in her background and one of the interesting parts of the book involve that marriage and the machinations that went toward both the betrothal and the subsequent divorce.Perveen is tasked to help three widows of the same wealthy man, who are living in seclusion or "purdah". Their husband had died and there is much confusion and consternation over both the terms of the will and it's carrying out. A murder occurs and Perveen steps in to help solve it. Frankly, the "mystery" part of the book is the weakest; Massey writes much better about the lives of the characters, whether they are Hindu, Moslem, or Church of England, and about conditions of India under the British Raj."The Widows of Malabar Hill" is the beginning of a series. If the others in the series are as good as this first book, I'll be back for more.
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  • Nora
    January 1, 1970
    I'm so glad I've been introduced to Sujata Massey's writing through my work. She is a thoughtful author, and writes not only with skill, but with great compassion and wisdom - you can tell by the way she cares for her characters, and gives each of them layers of nuance. It was wonderful to read a classic mystery set in India, with Indians as the main actors. I loved the atmosphere, the thoughtful inclusions of historical events and zeitgeist, the care with which she introduces the reader to Pars I'm so glad I've been introduced to Sujata Massey's writing through my work. She is a thoughtful author, and writes not only with skill, but with great compassion and wisdom - you can tell by the way she cares for her characters, and gives each of them layers of nuance. It was wonderful to read a classic mystery set in India, with Indians as the main actors. I loved the atmosphere, the thoughtful inclusions of historical events and zeitgeist, the care with which she introduces the reader to Parsi, Muslim and Hindu traditions, cultures and sensibilities. Really fascinating that the main character, a female lawyer, was given a proper backstory; I can't wait to join her on more adventures (I'm just upset I have to wait this long, having read the book long before it comes out). Great choice to have a female with head covering from a non-Muslim background, and to have explored notions of modesty from a different angle. I loved the pacing of the novel; no unnecessary jumping between scenes and action, no attempt to make it movie-like. Just a fantastic read!
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