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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL by Sujata Massey


THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL  by Sujata Massey
If you like historical fiction, especially India in early 20th century, and learning about different cultures and ways of life, you will like this book. While it is a murder mystery, it is also an exploration of the various cultures active in India from 1915 to 1922. The heroine is a young woman Parisi (Zoroastrian) who has trained to be a solicitor (lawyer) at Oxford and is working in her father’s firm when three widows, Muslims who live in Purda or complete seclusion from men, need a lawyer.  A murder occurs, and Perveen, the untried female lawyer, is the only one who can enter the widows’ seclusion. 
The situation of women of all faiths becomes integral to the plot,  as do marriage customs, inheritance, family practices, the law, the role of the English in India, Indian independence, class strictures and even education and employment for women.  While the plot moves slowly, the descriptions of a way of life unknown to most Americans, keeps the reader interested and reading.  Besides a murder, there are also two kidnappings, financial shenanigans, jewelry theft, families in crisis,  and other plot devices to keep interest high.
The noises, smells and flavors of Bombay and Calcutta set the scene. Clearly drawn characters and lively writing add to a tale well worth spending time with tea, curry and Perveen as she navigates the path forward with three widows who are clearly not sisters of the heart.
4 of 5 stars

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

GREAT SMALL THINGS by Jodi Piccoult


Great Small Things  by Jodi Piccoult
I haven’t read any Piccoult for a while (a little tired of the “disease of the month” rut she seemed to be in), so I had avoided this book also. But I kept hearing really good things about it. People who didn’t read Piccoult LOVED it. So, I gave it a shot.
All those good things I heard were true. This is a good book!  The tale revolves around an African-American nurse. She is a good nurse with a sterling reputation until she is Labor and Delivery nurse to the wife of a white supremacist. This IS a Piccoult book,  so, of course, something terrible happens to the baby.  Now the tale becomes sympathetic (yes, sympathetic) portrayals of a white, racist, perfectly awful man, his white racist, perfectly awful wife and a here-to-for unbiased, wonderful person African-American nurse and her honor roll student , off to Yale son.
You will learn more medical jargon than you ever wanted to know and, maybe, discover a few of your own biases and prejudices.  This is a good story, well told, that will keep you wondering about yourself until the final pages.
5 of 5 stars