I really enjoyed the first two books of this series but this time not nearly so much. The series takes place the 1920s before India’s independence so India is still a rather backward colony of England on the verge of independence, an interesting time. Perveen Mistry, the only daughter of a rich family, is the first female lawyer in Bombay. She’s very intelligent and politically progressive – it almost goes without saying that she’s a feminist for the times (for our times, too, but that’s a matter of reader agreement). Perveen was married briefly to a scoundrel and has only been able to get a legal separation. She lives and works with her father who is also moderately progressive.
The Bombay Prince
by Sujata Massey
Read by Sneha Methan 12h 37m
Rating: B / historical mystery
This novel opens with Freny Cuttingmaster, a young woman from a local college, coming to visit Perveen about college rules and legal consequences if she is involved in protests during the Prince’s upcoming visit. Like Perveen’s family she is Parsi (descended from Persians) which is why Freni visited her. This difference is important throughout the novel as Parsi’s have strict behavioral expectations.
During the parade for his majesty, Freny “falls” from a nearby balcony and dies. When her body is turned over she is found to have a serious wound on her face. Although Perveen helps with the parents and the police etc, her behavior is runs the risk of being scandalous while the parents try to have complete privacy for their official mourning. Pure cleanliness of the highest importance.
Perveen and her father become “persons of interest” to the police.
But Freny was very much in favor of independence from the British Raj, and she also may have a boyfriend in the political circle which supports it.
The concept of “no-fault” divorce, when it was introduced in California in 1969, was a revelation so the talk between Colin and Perveen where he mentions no-fault divorce is totally anachronistic and I don’t know if others noticed it but I certainly did. But the point of the book is women’s rights and readers will sympathize with that kind of resolution to Perveen’s dilemma.
I found the way legal matters were handled in India at this time interesting. The main plot concerning the independence movement and some attacks is well done.
Imo, there’s too much romance, or the possibility of it, in the novel along with a “history of manners” which, I suppose, enables very conservative women of today to feel emancipated and outraged. There’s also lots of talk of food and clothes and I suppose hat’s what some reviewer was referring to when they commented on the good research.
The narrator was generally quite good but the Indian names are still hard to decipher.