The Widows of Malabar Hill

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Mar 2018

Member Reviews

One of the great things about books is that you can travel to another time period and other cultures to see the world through others eyes. This book is set in Bombay in 1921 with a backstory in 1916. Pervert and her family live in the Parsi community and we learn of that cultures treatment of women while watching our main character solve the murder.
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I have loved Sujata Massey's work since I first read Girl in a Box (and then had to go and read all the Rei Shimura titles), so I was really excited to see a new work from her. I found this to be a enjoyable read that seemed to plod a bit in places. I liked the historical detail but felt that it was a bit overdone. That being said, I plan to read the next title in the series.
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This mystery had three things going for it. It was in a time and place, early 20th Century Bombay, that was different and thus interesting. Iit had a believable, relevant backstory about the first woman lawyer in that time and place.  Finally, the mystery at the core was excellent.
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I had such a good time reading this book. The author does a great job in weaving together two plots, one from 1917 and the other 1921 and keeping the reader in suspense on both ends. The setting is beautifully drawn and quite varied, exposing the reader to a number of different aspects of Indian society from the very early 20th century. Perveen Mistry is a spirited heroine with a lot of good luck on her side but it's impossible to hold that good luck against such a charming character.
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The Widows of Malabar Hill touched me deeply in many ways. First, it reached me as a professional -- one who is fortunate not to have struggled in the ways that Purveen did, but who has heard the stories of women who have.  Then it touched me with Purveen's interactions with cultures different from her own -- one that she worked with and one that she fought hard to survive. Her comeback touched me even more deeply.
I do wonder if this will be a series. Highly recommended to those who are interested in women's history, the legal profession, and/or India.....and much more!
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Such a great book and it is written so goid. Drawn from the very first pages
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Sujata Massey has created an irresistible heroine in Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female solicitor. It’s 1921, and Perveen balances her modern ideas with the too traditional ideas of colonial India. Massey never crosses over into anachronism; Perveen remains an observant, if not too strict, Parsee, but she’s a determined young woman and a champion for other women in a society where they almost never get a break.

Perveen goes to interview the three widows of a late client of her father, Jamshedji Mistry, one of Bombay’s most esteemed lawyers. She suspects that the women — two of whom have spent their entire lives in purdah (isolation) — are being bamboozled by the late husband’s estate...

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This was a well written lovely story about a fearless woman in India. I loved the characters, the setting and the way it was written. I look forward to the rest of the trilogy for sure!
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Intricate look at early 20th century life for an Indian woman, told through the lens of a murder mystery. Well written, fascinating characters. Great for the mystery lover, historical fiction lover, or women's studies major in your life.
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This wouldn’t be a book for everybody—and that would be a shame. Massey has done a lot of research about India’s first female lawyer, Cornelia Sorabji, a Parsi called to the Bar in London, who also wrote novels of women’s experience. She has not based her heroine, the attorney Perveen Mistry, on Sorabji’s life (Perveen read Law in Oxford), but used it as the foundation of a crime novel set in 1920s Bombay, and writes her historical fiction from a contemporary angle. I cannot think of a novel published in India that has as much sociological nous as this one. For one thing, it includes a serious case of venereal disease caught from the heroine’s husband. For another, it has some...

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My favorite kind of mystery — my favorite kind of book, really — is one with a very detailed setting that introduces me to a world that is unfamiliar.  This book definitely did that for me.  Kudos to Ms. Massey for what appears to be a beautifully researched visit to the multiple cultures, family structures, and legal codes of 1920’s Bombay. Sequels, please!
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In Bombay in the 1920s, Perveen is the only female solicitor, and she has had to endure many hardships to reach that point. As part of her work for her father's law office, she assists in an estate case involving a longtime client who has died, and his three widows who have chosen to isolate themselves according to the custom of purdah. The will is complicated and difficult to sort out because the three women may not have any face to face contact with men. Their agent turns up murdered, and Perveen suspects that he has been less than honest with the widows. Meanwhile, her best friend, a classmate from Oxford, has arrived in Bombay, and is a neighbor of the widows. Even more interesting...

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The first book in a new historical fiction/mystery series, The Widows of Malabar Hill features Perveen Mistry, a character based on Cornelia Sorabji, one of the first female attorneys in India. In this installment, Perveen is representing the interest of three widows who choose to live in purdah, a cultural practice of seclusion. Their husband has recently died and they have been left under the care of a shady estate agent. When the estate agent ends up dead in their house, Perveen must figure out who has done the deed in order to protect her clients. As the story progresses, the reader also gets flashbacks to Perveen's past, in which she struggles with a difficult marriage and strict...

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I loved, loved, loved this! Usually mysteries aren’t my thing, but this had such great characters and one thing I like the most about great historical novels: that feeling of being transported to another place in time and getting lost there. Perveen Mistry is a strong female character based on a real person who seems true to her time and place. I enjoyed my trip with Perveen to 1920s Bombay and cannot wait for her next adventure!
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I think this book is the start of a new series—or anyway, I hope it is, because I enjoyed it a lot. It’s set in 1920s Bombay, and centers on a young woman who is Bombay's first female lawyer (working for her awesome supportive lawyer father). Her gender comes in handy when some discrepancies pop up concerning a Muslim estate whose three widows live in purda (seclusion)—and then there’s a murder. This is all interspersed with flashbacks to a dark time in her past. She also has an English best friend from Oxford who is a not-so-secret lesbian. It’s one of those mysteries that is just as much about the characters and settings as it is the actual mystery plot, and I hope to see more of it...

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It is 1921 and the Indian subcontinent is experiencing change as agitation for independence from Britain grows stronger and many traditions are challenged. In multicultural Bombay, modern times are personified in the city's first female attorney, Oxford-educated Perveen Mistry, a member of the minority Parsi community. Although employed by her father's law firm, the young woman is not permitted to argue cases in court and works primarily behind the scenes, until she is asked to assist more directly with a case involving three recently bereaved Muslim women who live secluded in their home according to the strictures of purdah. Her own horrific marital history gives Perveen useful...

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This wonderful mystery set in 1920's Bombay, is on my Keeper Shelf.   Perveen Mistry, a female lawyer in her father's firm, investigates a suspicious will on behalf of three widows.  As a murder is solved, details of Perveen's tragic marriage are revealed through flashbacks, and the terrible treatment of women is highlighted.  I was transported to 1920's India and call myself very fortunate that I didn't have to take up residence there!  If you care about women's rights issues, this novel is a must read.  Please quickly bring on the next Perveen Mistry story!
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THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL by Sujata Massey is a mystery story that appealed to me as much for the suspense as for its unique setting – early 20th century Bombay, India - and its clever, brave heroine, Preveen Mistry. She is the daughter of a prominent Bombay lawyer and therefore lives a life of privilege, but still she seeks justice and is naturally curious. The story, based in part on actual people, begins in 1921 with Preveen acting as Bombay's first female lawyer. She is working to help clarify the financial situation for three Muslim widows living in full purdah, or seclusion from men. Learning about the various cultural practices was fascinating and Massey did an excellent job...

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Inspired by historical events, the author paints a picture of multicultural Bombay in the 1920s.  This novel is about a woman lawyer who has a personal view of women's rights.  She also is a likable and and intelligent sleuth.
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I really enjoyed this book! It's a mystery story in the tradition of Agatha Christie and Jacqueline Winspear, but set in 1920s India with an engaging protagonist: Perveen Mistry, who hopes to be the first female lawyer in Bombay. She is particularly interested in helping women, especially when she can help in ways that men cannot. There are also extended flashbacks to her short and unhappy marriage. Although the mystery was nothing special (but a perfectly adequate page-turner!), the world-building in this book was excellent. I enjoyed learning about India in the 1920s, as well as the various religions explored, especially from the perspective of an unconventional woman!
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