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The Widows of Malabar Hill

(Perveen Mistry #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  8,222 ratings  ·  1,429 reviews
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. Oma
Hardcover, 385 pages
Published January 9th 2018 by Soho Press
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Marg Strein Review: Setting Bombay India, 1916, 1920's. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Preveen Mistry is a woman ahead of her time and fights for womens' rights.…moreReview: Setting Bombay India, 1916, 1920's. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Preveen Mistry is a woman ahead of her time and fights for womens' rights. Although she can't practice law in the court system, she does discovery work and attends to other legal matters in her father's law firm. She is working on the Widows of Malabar Hill's estate (wives of Omar Faird) who has died. They live in seclusion. While she is attending to the widows estate, a murder occurs at Malabar Hill. Along with her friend (Alice), Preveen solves the mystery of the murders. The book reveals Preveen's trial and tribulation with a failed marriage and how she fought for her freedom from the marriage with her father's help in 1917 in a Calcutta Court System.

Preveen is an intelligent woman who is fearless and knows how to solve problems in her father's law firm. She is ambitious and has endured the pain from an abusive and controlled marriage.She is a winner and succeeds. In the final chapters of the book, you see how and where Preveen met Alice (her best friend). This is the first book I read by this author, Sudjara Massey. Would recommend. (less)

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3.93  · 
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 ·  8,222 ratings  ·  1,429 reviews

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Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! What a pleasant surprise and new writer for me, Sujata Massey, talented. I read this book during December and just finished in the days off from work. A great view on India in the 1920s, an interesting and rather grim view on the position of women then and there and a great heroine, the first female lawyer Preveen Mistry in India, handling a sensitive case and trying to solve the murders included. 4.7+ so the first five star this year, what a start. This book was longlisted in t ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a very well done old-fashioned historical novel and my first experience with Massey. Perveen is the only female practicing lawyer in 1921 Bombay. She is unable to argue cases in court due to the strictures of the time and instead works as a solicitor for her father’s practice. At its heart, this is a murder mystery and a good one. There is a bit of a dual timeline but it doesn’t occur every other chapter so the novel flows more smoothly than other books that have used this device.

Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Five big fat stars for this book that I just LOVED! A whodunnit situated in India in the 1920's with a female lawyer as main character. It's fast paced and has lots of interesting information. I hope #2 will be published very soon!
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
I struggled with this book and it came perilously close to a DNF. Only my interest in the character of Perveen - lawyer/female gumshoe/fighter for women's rights- enabled me to pick up this book again.

This book had a major stylistic fault.I hate flashbacks at this best of times and the flashbacks in this novel overwhelmed the mystery - and the mystery is what I signed up for. Ms Massey may have done this because the whodunnit part of this novel is very slight. Just not enough meat to sustai
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“As the only female lawyer in Bombay, you hold a power that nobody else has,” a British government official tells Perveen Mistry in this first of a refreshingly original mystery series – and he’s right. It’s 1921, and Perveen is a solicitor in her father’s law firm. Even though she can’t appear in court, her position and gender mean she’s the only individual with the means to look into a potential instance of deception and fraud.

A Muslim mill-owner's three widows, who live in purdah with their c
Alice Lippart
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
Loved the setting, characters, the mystery and the time period.
Cathy Cole
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Having been a fan of Sujata Massey's award-winning Rei Shimura mystery series, I was thrilled to hear about this first Perveen Mistry mystery set in 1920s Bombay, India. There are two interwoven timelines in The Widows of Malabar Hill. One is present-day Bombay in 1921 which shows us Perveen working hard to become an integral part of her father's law firm. The second timeline takes us back to 1916 so we can learn what happened to Perveen to make her the woman she is five years later.

The story it
I can see how many people would enjoy this series. It fell a bit flat for me. It read like a Nancy Drew mystery to me. I've upgraded my rating from two to three stars. I started thinking about it more, and I realized that because I listened to this book, I was influenced by the narrator's voice for the characters. As I said, it felt like a Nancy Drew mystery to me. I think that was due to the narrator. If I had read it, I think that the story of the widows and Perveen's own story of oppression w ...more
Jul 13, 2018 added it
Will refrain from rating as I abandoned mission on this one. Can see how others might find the time, setting, plot line and premise delightful (think Maise-Dobbs-Goes-to-India), but I found the writing too light and trite when there are a gazillion wonderful books waiting for me.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Perveen Mistry is a solicitor, preparing herself for the day when women would be allowed to the Bar. Working with her father, she comes across a mysterious case in which three Muslim women, widows of the same man, want to donate away their inheritance to a wakf (Islamic trust). Curious about the case and worried about the women, who lived behind the purdah and had no contact with the outside world, Perveen decides to explore the case deeply. This gets her into a lot of trouble, and embroils her ...more
Judith E
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This mystery is a perfect vehicle to learn about the diverse cultures, religious sects, marriage traditions, treatment of women, legal system, and delicious-sounding Indian cuisine, in Bombay and Calcutta, India.

A quick read revolving around three Muslim widows practicing purdah and the confusing inheritance of their late husband’s estate. The plot and characters are a means to the presentation of the very interesting historical platform. Enjoyable and recommended. 3.75 stars.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This novel is set in India, in 1921, although the story also goes back a few years, to 1916. The main character is Perveen Mistry, one of the first female lawyers in India, who works for her father’s law firm. Normally, Perveen works in the office, but when there is a case with three widows, who seem all too willing to sign over their inheritance, and who live in secluded purdah, then Perveen seems to be perfectly placed to infiltrate that most female world and investigate what is going on, whil ...more
Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a difficult review/ reaction to compose. Because I wanted to give this one more than a 3 star. Perveen Mistry is a terrific character. She's multi faceted and interesting in both a self-identity and expressive style sense. She's logical, and very smart. And up against severe and diverse restriction, tradition, culture, tribal based and religious finely drawn strictures. All of those.

And it also taught me quite a bit within this length of read about the Parsi minority populations in India
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-reads-2018
Sujata Massey was a new author for me. I enjoyed The Widows of Malabar Hill very much. The location is Bombay, India in 1921 to flashbacks to Calcutta 1916-1917. Perveen Mistry is the first female lawyer in India. She was educated in Oxford but can not represent clients in court. She works in her father law office.

Her father is representing the estate of Omar Farid who is a wealthy Muslim mill owner. He has left three widows who are living in purdah which is total seclusion. They do not leave th
Kari Ann Sweeney
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I loved the setting and time period- 1920's Bombay. The main character was a strong, smart, complicated female and the first female lawyer to boot. The mystery kept me guessing as well. Perhaps what I appreciated most was the education I received about Indian culture and laws during this time period.

Was this a knock-my-socks off book? No. But it sure was an escape! And it would make for great conversation.
K.J. Charles
A really cracking atmospheric historical murder mystery set in 1920s Bombay with an Oxford-educated female solicitor dealing with three widows and the man who's trying to exploit them. Lots of atmosphere and local colour, fascinating and horrifying on the many traditions besetting women of all religions, and a nice murder plot along with a haunting backstory for our heroine. Terrific stuff, I hope there will be many more in this series.
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
This is the first in a mystery series featuring Perveen Mistry, the first female lawyer in Bombay (based on the real firsts, Camelia Sorabji and Mithan Tata Lam) set in the 1920s. Perveen is 23, has read law at Oxford, and is employed in her father’s firm as no one else would employ her. She isn’t a member of the Bar since this is still not permitted at that point. Her father’s firm is appointed to execute the will of one Omar Farid, a wealthy mill-owner who was their client. On his death, he ha ...more
Carol (Reading Ladies)
3.5 stars (round up) ...
Even though I appreciate the setting of 1920s Bombay and learning about another culture, the story develops slowly. Although it’s categorized as a mystery, the mystery is not revealed until about the 50% mark. There are many storylines and the mystery is just one of them. The main reason I persisted with this is because it is one of Modern Mrs Darcey’s top summer picks. The story picks up the pace at about 75%. It’s definitely a character driven story.

What I liked:
* the
4.5, rounded up to 5
What a charming mystery! This is so different from the books I normally read and I just loved it. The story’s heroine is the first female solicitor in Bombay, India in the 1920’s. The character is based on the real-life first female solicitor. The story is about 3 widows who observe purdah....a type of seclusion after the death of their husband where they are not to be seen by men. Perveen, the heroine, is a solicitor who is helping them through the details of their husband’s
Rajat Ubhaykar
Fantastic blend of historical fiction and murder mystery, featuring a headstrong Parsi protagonist who's on her way to becoming the first woman lawyer to practice in Bombay. Highly recommended!
Barb in Maryland
3.5 stars for the first in s new series by the author.

I really liked the mystery, the setting(1921 Bombay), our heroine--just about everything in the main storyline. Young lawyer Perveen is a delight; I enjoyed watching her deal with her wily fox of a father. I am happy to see her good friend Alice again (introduced in the prequel novella 'Outnumbered at Oxford'). The mystery was clever--process of elimination gave me the killer, but not the 'why' of the murder.
However, I had mixed feelings abo
Sue Em
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. Perveen Mistry is the first female solicitor in 1921 Bombay. While she cannot plead cases before the bar, she aids clients of her family's law firm. Assisting her father in an inheritance case, she discovers a murdered man at the house of the three widows. As the women follow the tradition of purdah--not having contact with men, Perveen's gender becomes an asset in unravelling the mystery. The cultural details educate and inform the reader while the story entrances. I read and love ...more
A few minutes ago (it's 11:20 AM EST as I write this), I had the satisfaction of finishing reading "THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL." It's centered around India's first woman lawyer, Perveen Mistry, who had received her legal training at Oxford. The time is February 1921 and she has returned to her home in Bombay, where she has a job working in her father's law firm.

Perveen has been given the responsibility of executing the will of Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim who owned a fabric mill and had 3 wives
This was an exceptionally good period mystery that I would recommend to virtually any kind of mystery fan.

With this novel superlative author Sujata Massey begins what I hope will be a very long series featuring the adventures of India's first female lawyer Perveen Mistry (who is based on India's real first female lawyer).

It is 1921 in Bombay and Perveen works in practice with her father, a well known and respected lawyer. Though the law prevents her from arguing cases in court she's become an
3.5 stars
I wavered between 3 and 4 stars throughout the story. I enjoyed that it took place in Bombay, India, in the early part of the 20th century. It was fascinating to learn about Indian culture and laws during this period of time. The protagonist, Perveen, was also a likeable character who represented women's rights and the suffragette movement that was taking place around the world. I was captivated during the chapters that focused on Perveen when she was 19 years old.

Unfortunately I found
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
This book took me completely by surprise, so much so that I read it in a single day. What a pleasure.

The book follows Perveen Mistry, a woman in her early twenties who happens to be the first female lawyer in 1920s India. She works together with her father at his law firm and in this book takes on the settling of his estate after a client's death. He had three wives, who oddly enough have all agreed to donate their inheritance to charity. Perveen finds the signatures on the document fis
Taryn Pierson
Perveen Mistry is the first practicing female lawyer in Bombay in the early 1920s. In assisting her father with the administration of an estate, she notices something odd about a letter they received from the widows of the decedent: the widows claim they all want to donate their inheritances to the family charity. The custodian of the estate is pushy and demands the funds be made available for charitable purposes, but Perveen wants to meet with the widows in person to discuss their rights to the ...more
No rating and no proper review because the author is connected personally and professionally to people I've been connected to personally and professionally.

My thoughts on the book overall:

I wound up really enjoying this and sinking into the parallel stories. There was a fair amount of info-dumping at the beginning, and a few things that just felt a tiny bit off, but once I got past that it settled into a very good read.

The novel is really two books in one: it's a fairly standard procedural my
Kate ☀️ Olson
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-reads
I'm SO happy I finally read this one! I bought it right after publication and finally moved it to the top of my TBR this week. Just the smart/#ownvoices/feminist/historical mystery I needed! I absolutely adored the deep cultural and religious education that I received through reading and was fascinated by various aspects of 1920s Bombay that I had never read about prior to this book. I will certainly not at all claim to be an expert after reading WIDOWS, but I love that Massey does such a thorou ...more
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Indian girl with strong will and loving parents gets sidelined early on with crises hard to overcome. It's 1920 and earlier, between Bengal and Calcutta and Oxford we learn of the victories and defeats. Perveen is a brave female protagonist, the only girl reading law and thus taunted by the male students until they win first round.
Her father is successful lawyer and is admirable champion in her struggles both professionally and personally. There is a punishing marriage that must be dealt with i
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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. THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL, the first Perveen novel, was named a Best Mystery/Thriller of 2018 and also an Amazon Best Mystery/Thriller of 2018. Additionally, the book won the Bruce Alexan ...more

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“She had been meant to die, yet she’d cut her way out of that fate and back to the world she loved.” 1 likes
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