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The Widows of Malabar Hill

Narrated by: Soneela Nankani
Series: Perveen Mistry, Book 1
Length: 14 hrs and 34 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Introducing an extraordinary female lawyer-sleuth in a new historical series set in 1920s Bombay!

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 law degree from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women's legal rights.

Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen is going through the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on if they forfeit what their husband left them? Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X - meaning she probably couldn't even read the document. The Farid widows live in full purdah - in strict seclusion, never leaving the women's quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian?

Perveen tries to investigate, and realizes her instincts about the will were correct when tensions escalate to murder. Now it is her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that no innocent women or children are in further danger.

Inspired in part by a real woman who made history by becoming India's first female lawyer, The Widows of Malabar Hill is a richly wrought story of multicultural 1920s Bombay as well as the debut of a sharp and promising new sleuth, Perveen Mistry.

©2018 Sujata Massey (P)2018 Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for hachiko
  • hachiko
  • 09-02-2018

Loved this!

I have read the Rei Shimura mysteries by Sujata Massey so I was curious about this new series. What a delight this was! It was a little tricky for me at first to grasp the laws of Perveen's time. But once I allowed myself to just enjoy the story, I was enraptured by 1920's Bombay. It was so interesting to hear Perveen's struggles with marriage and her fight for justice. Another very addictive series!

26 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 07-02-2018

Outstanding Historical Mystery

Any additional comments?

I'm a fan of Sujata Massey; I read all of her mysteries set in Japan. I was excited to see that she had started a new series (I hope it's a series) set in India in the 1920's. The story is excellent and a wonderful look at the many cultures of India during the time the British ruled.
I especially enjoyed reading about the place of women; the main character, Purveen, is the only woman lawyer in Bombay. This is so much more than a mystery, but wonderfully written look at a social and cultural time well before independence. The reader added a lot to this story, so glad I listened. I am always torn between listening and reading--love both. It's a plus when a reader adds so much to the story. This is a great listen, highly recommended.

75 of 78 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kathryn
  • Kathryn
  • 21-09-2018

Audio Can Be Confusing - This Might Help

I have read several of Sujata Massey's Rei Shimura novels and enjoyed them so this title interested me. It is a mystery but more like a novel, very rich in historical detail. I learned quite a bit about the positions of Parsi and Muslim women in India in the 1920's. There was one problem, which is that I found it difficult to keep track of the various characters whose names are unfamiliar so I took the book out of the library and I am including a list here so you can use it as a cheat sheet.

Perveen Mistry is the main character. Her circle includes:

- Jamshedji - Her father
- Camillia - Her mother
- Mustafa - Butler
- Jayanth - Young stevedore client of the law firm
- Rustom - Brother
- Gulnaz - Sister-in-law

Farid Household

-Omar Farid - deceased husband
-Faisal Mukri - the estate trustee and agent
-Razia Fared - First wife, one daughter Amina
- Sakina Fared - Second wife, two daughters, one son
-Mumtaz Fared- Third wife
- Mohsen - Servant - widowed with two young children also working as servants, Fatima and Zeid

Hope this helps. The book is an enjoyable listen!


12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for consuelo
  • consuelo
  • 25-03-2018

I wish this had a different reader

Would you be willing to try another one of Soneela Nankani’s performances?

No. I think this is probably a beautiful novel, but it's been read like a children's story, full of unnecessary and inexplicable rises at the end of sentences and breathy explosions. I also don't understand why the narrative (non-dialog) portion is in an American accent. This is India in the 1920s. America doesn't enter into it. The British accents, while more appropriate, don't sound genuine. I wish this had been performed in a grownup voice. The main character sounds a bit ridiculous, like a kid, and it really distracts from the story. I'm several chapters in, and I just don't think I'll finish. I'll read it myself, and count this as an unfortunate purchase.

140 of 150 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Robin A. Gower
  • Robin A. Gower
  • 18-01-2018

Complex mystery presents issues of culture, family, and law

Sujata Massey, whose earlier mysteries set in Japan are a lighthearted delight, has outdone herself in this new novel (it transcends genre) set in India between 1917 and 1921. The relationships among members of various religious and ethnic groups are deftly drawn with tolerance and understanding. Women's issues are in the foreground. The protagonist in the first woman solicitor practicing in Bombay (in her father's firm and with his very necessary support), and most of the heroes and victims

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for ili pika
  • ili pika
  • 29-07-2018

(OMG!!!)

Sigh. Yet another narrator who reads each line of text as if it has a subliminal (OMG) at its start and several exclamation points at its end.

(OMG) She arrived at her destination!!
(OMG) There was a man standing in the doorway!!
(OMG) He looked poor!!
(OMG) His clothes were shabby!!

(OMG) I do so wish narrators would understand that the writer creates atmosphere and emotional content with words, and readers (or in this case, listeners) hear those words, and create, in their very own imaginations, corresponding moods and emotions. For those of us accustomed to reading, this is actually a very effective form of communication. We do not need a theatrical rendition, complete with scenery chewing, in order to enjoy the story. It's okay to just read the book in a conversational tone!!!

Yet another potentially delightful audio book returned because I find listening to the narrator to be a painful experience.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for JoDee
  • JoDee
  • 30-01-2018

Interesting but hard to follow.

This was an interesting story but the audible version is hard to follow when only hearing names and places. It gets a little confusing.

34 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Shoshana L. Francis
  • Shoshana L. Francis
  • 16-08-2018

Good story, bad narration

I really liked this story. The setting, characters, and plot were very engaging and interesting. I always love a book that gets me interested in a real place or time period, and this one did that for me for Bombay in the 1920s and the different religions and cultures that inhabited it. The mystery aspect kept me guessing, though the choice to reveal the main character's back story in flashback was a problem for me. Because we know from the 1921 narration that Perveen lives with her family in Bombay and is practicing as a solicitor, there is less drama and suspense in the story of her life in 1916-17, in which she falls in love, gets married, and moves to Calcutta.

My main problem with this was the narration. It is oddly done by an American, which doesn't really make sense as none of the characters are American, nor does any part of it take place in America. Because the narrator is of Indian descent, the accents of the Indian characters rang true, but her British accent was pretty terrible. I could have looked past this, but her narration is so overwrought, plaintive, almost whiny. It's great to put a lot of emotion into dialogue, but when you do it with third-person narration, it's really annoying and distracting. My advice to the narrator is to tone it waaaay down for the narration, and don't be so whiny with the dialogue. She made Perveen sound really weak, and I don't think it would have read that way in my head if I'd been reading print. At first, I wasn't sure if I would even be able to continue with it, it was that annoying, but I stuck it out for the story's sake. I understand that this is to be a series, and I would highly recommend that they either replace the narrator with a British person of Indian descent, or that this narrator calm down and refrain from over-emoting.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for R .Deshaies
  • R .Deshaies
  • 07-02-2018

A bit predictable

And almost puritanical—I wondered if this was not a YA novel? Still, the descriptions of time, place, and cultures was very interesting.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Gayle
  • Gayle
  • 08-03-2019

Great story, performance is a little overboard

good story about women overcoming inequalities in India circa 1920. The narration would be improved by toning it down a bit. The manufactured drama of the narration got on my nerves. The story is good without the extra drama.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful