BOOK CLUB: The Satapur Moonstone

Author: Sujata Massey
ISBN: 9781760529420

The book is set in India in 1922. The Kingdom of Satapur is in the lush, remote Sahyardi Mountains.

A curse has fallen upon Satapur’s Royal family. The Maharaja died of a sudden illness and his eldest son has been killed in a  tragic hunting accident. 

The Kingdom is now ruled by an agent of the Brtitish Raj on behalf of Satapur’s  two maharanis, Putlabai (the older dowager queen) and Mirabai (the Maharaja’s widow).

The Crown Prince, Jiva Roa, is 10 years old.  His Grandmother Putlabai and his mother, Mirabai are disagreeing over his education.  His mother wishes him to be sent to a school in England, but his Grandmother wants him to remain inside the palace and continue his education with the same tutor, now quite elderly, who taught her husband and son.

The maharanis live in purdah, which means they do not speak to men. This has made negotiations…complicated.

Perveen Mistry is Parsi and Bombay’s first female lawyer. She is approached by the Kolhapur Agency, a political agency of British India, which manages relationships between  the British Government and princely States. Her mission is to visit the palace and mediate between the two maharanis and bring about a peaceful solution for Jiva Roa’s education. Parveen accepts the job.

On arrival in Satapur she is met by Colin Sandringham the British Agent of the area. He is able to brief Parveen on the situation so far. Her journey is delayed by the palanquin (the method of transport used to travel into the forest to the palace) needing repairs. Colin hosts a dinner at which Parveen meets a range of guests….all who have mysterious links to the royal family. Swaroop, the late Maharajas brother, who now is Prime Minister. Yazard and Vandana Mehtra , wealthy neighbours. Roderick Ames, an engineer and Dr Andrews.

Parveen continues her journey and is admitted and granted  an audience with the  two maharanis. While undertaking her investigation, she finds the palace is full of cold blooded power plays and ancient vendettas.

The mother of the Crown Prince believes that her eldest son was murdered and that her  younger son is in grave danger. As events unfold, Parveen is also worried about her own safety.

Who can she trust, who benefits from the deaths,  was someone  responsible for the elder son’s death? What can she do to keep the royal children safe?  Parveen knows something is very wrong in the palace and she is determined to find out what it is.

This book is an excellent read, mysterious and suspenseful.

Although a fictional story, there is so much to learn about the customs, food and Indian country side in the time of British control.

This is the second book in the series, the first being A Murder at Malabar Hill, which I will certainly be reading! Hopefully there will be a third book in this series!

A selection of our members have been reading The Satapur Moonstone. You can read their reviews in the comments below, or add your own!

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