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The Mistress of Bhatia House by Parveen Mistry: book review

About the Book:

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin (1 January 2023)

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English

  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 432 pages

  • Order your copy: Here

Bombay, 1920s. At a lavish fundraiser party for the launch of a new women’s hospital, the grandson of Lord Bhatia, an influential aristocrat, is badly burned in an accident—but a young servant, Sunanda, rushes to save him. Instead of being lauded as a hero, Sunanda is dismissed from the household, and simultaneously, suspiciously charged with “child murder”—also known as abortion.

Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s only female solicitor, cannot stand by while this heroine is mistreated and takes her on as a client. Perveen goes as far as inviting Sunanda to live with the Mistrys, as Sunanda’s family has put her out of the house in shame at her supposed crime.

The Mistry home is full of tension, as Perveen’s sister-in-law, who has just given birth, is struggling with new motherhood, and Perveen’s father is less than happy to have a disgraced servant under his roof. Perveen herself is going through personal turmoil as she navigates a societally taboo relationship with a handsome librarian.

When the Mistrys’ servant residence is set aflame, Perveen realizes just how much is at stake in this case: has someone extremely powerful framed Sunanda to cover up another crime? Will Perveen be able to prove Sunanda’s innocence without endangering her own family? Sujata Massey has returned with another expertly researched and chillingly prescient exploration of 1920s Bombay.

My Thoughts:

In a mesmerizing blend of history and suspense, Sujata Massey's "The Mistress of Bhatia House" transports readers to an era of turmoil and transformation. The protagonist, a formidable woman whose determination defies societal norms, becomes the beacon of hope in an era of gender disparities and caste divisions. As she navigates the intricacies of a society on the brink of change, her strength and resilience are emblematic of the women who silently fought against oppression.

The plot unfolds with a tension that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. As the layers of mystery are gradually peeled back, the reader is drawn into a web of secrets, conspiracies, and hidden motives. The pages practically turn themselves as the protagonist's journey intertwines with the larger narrative of India's struggle for independence, creating a narrative that is both thrilling and historically resonant.

What sets "The Mistress of Bhatia House"apart is not just its gripping plot, but also the remarkable cultural immersion it offers. Through vivid descriptions and intricate details, the book recreates the ambiance of 1920s India, from bustling marketplaces to opulent palaces. The rich cultural tapestry of the time is interwoven seamlessly into the storyline, allowing readers to vividly experience the sights, sounds, and emotions of that era.

The author's deep understanding of the social dynamics of the time is evident in her portrayal of gender discrimination and caste hierarchy. With a deft touch, she highlights the challenges faced by women in a society that often stifled their voices and ambitions. The caste-based divisions, too, are portrayed sensitively, shedding light on an aspect of history that is both uncomfortable and important to acknowledge.

Sujata Massey's prose is eloquent and evocative, effortlessly guiding readers through the labyrinth of emotions experienced by the characters. Her narrative prowess draws readers into the heart of the story, allowing them to feel the protagonist's triumphs and struggles as if they were their own.

In conclusion, "The Mistress of Bhatia House" is a masterpiece that effortlessly combines the elements of a gripping thriller with the nuanced exploration of gender discrimination and caste hierarchy in 1920s pre-independence India. Sujata Massey's storytelling prowess shines brilliantly as she delves into the intricacies of a society in flux, making this novel a must-read for those who crave suspense, historical depth, and cultural immersion all in one.

Immerse yourself in this captivating journey that seamlessly blends history, suspense, and empowerment. Pick up "The Mistress of Bhatia House" today and embark on an unforgettable adventure through the heart of pre-independence India.

About the author:

Sujata Massey is the author of historical and mystery fiction set in Asia. She is best known for the Perveen Mistry series published in the United States by Soho Press and in India by Penguin Random House India. Sujata lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with her family and two dogs. In addition to writing, she loves to travel, read, cook, garden, and walk.

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon 2023
This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Outset Books.
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