The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry #1) by Sujata Massey
Set in India in 1921 The Widows of Malabar Hill gives a fascinating insight into the complexities of being an Indian woman with ambition at a time where women’s lives were dictated by society and by the men around them. Perveen Mistry is the first female lawyer in India and works with her respected father in his law firm in Bombay.
As a woman, she can access female clients who live in purdah (never leaving their homes, and having no contact with men). Perveen is tasked with interviewing the three widows of a wealthy Muslim who was a client of her father’s, to ensure they understand their legal rights after his death. She is dismayed to discover that they have been misled by an unscrupulous guardian. When a murder is committed, suspicion falls on the widows, and Perveen knows that she must discover what happened on Malabar Hill before an innocent woman is convicted of murder.
I learnt so much from reading this book: about India’s history and culture and struggle for independence. The Soho Crime edition also contains an interview with Sujata Massey, discussion questions suitable for book club, information about the Parsis and even selected recipes!
I found myself totally immersed in Perveen’s world and was sorry to finish the book. However, she features in another book: The Satapur Moonstone which I look forward to reading shortly.