BOOK CLUB: The Satapur Moonstone

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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!

6 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Satapur Moonstone

  1. The Satapur Moonstone

    Although this is the second in a series, I have not read the first as I heard this could be read as a stand alone. I am now looking forward to reading the first as I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

    Bombay’s first female lawyer, Perveen Mistry, works for her father’s law firm. She is asked to go to the Kingdom of Satapur to settle the dispute between the now dead leader’s mother and his widowed wife. They are arguing about the future education of the young prince. His mother wants him to be sent to England to obtain the skills to be the best ruler he can when his time to reign comes, while his grandmother wants him to remain at the palace and continue his studies. Perveen is employed as the two royal woman live in Purdah and do not speak to men so she being a woman is perfect for the job at hand.

    Upon going to the region Perveen learns many things about the royal family. There are many secrets to be uncovered, especially surrounding the death of the older brother to the prince who had died just a year before under mysterious circumstances. Perveen has her work cut out for her trying to piece it all together.

    The book is very well written. It got me hooked pretty quickly. I must say that I discovered the glossary at the back of the book very helpful with the terms used throughout as many were foreign to me. I thought this glossary was a necessary addition.
    The cover is very colourful and eye catching and what lies within will not disappoint.

    With thanks to Beauty and Lace as well as Allen and Unwin for this copy to read and give my honest review.

  2. If like me you are longing to travel again, and see, feel and taste the delights of another culture. I highly recommend The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey, published by Allen & Unwin. It really does give you a taste of the exotic! It is a vivid and fascinating adventure, set amidst the cultural, political, and social climate of India in the 1920s.

    Perveen Mistry, one of the country’s first female lawyers, comes to the remote kingdom of Satapur to resolve a dispute. Tricky for anyone but particularly for a professional woman in extremely hierarchical and male dominated India!

    Satapur, while under the protection of the British, is caught up in a power struggle between the kingdom’s dowager Queen, the Maharaja’s widow and heirs and the late Maharaja’s brother. The power plays even extend to the palace courtiers and servants. Then to complicate things further there is also a history of untimely royal deaths, perhaps murders, and the fact that the royal women are in Purdah, a type of seclusion.

    The wonderfully adept and endearing Perveen Mistry weaves her way through all these obstacles and in the end manages to save the day, but not without her fair share of drama along the way.

    A beautifully evocative and captivating story with well rounded and colourful characters. The Satapur Moonstone is a must read which magically transports you to another place and time, and with a complex mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  3. This novel by Sujata Massey is the second in a historical mystery series based in India in the 1920s featuring Perveen Mistry, Bombay’s first female lawyer.
    The story is set in the kingdom of Satapur, southeast of Bombay, it seems a curse has fallen upon the state’s royal family. The maharaja and his eldest son have both died leaving a very young crown prince and his sister with the maharaja’s elderly mother and his wife. These two maharanis are in conflict over the crown prince’s education and Perveen is appointed to act as mediator.
    As part of her briefing before heading to the royal palace Perveen visits the Circuit House where the British Raj’s agent, Colin Sandringham lives. Here she meets the neighbours some of whom have secret connections to the Satapur royal family. When Perveen arrives at the palace she soon realises that it is a dangerous place and she is concerned for the crown prince’s safety.
    I really enjoyed this novel, it was good to learn a little more about Indian society in the 1920s and the maps and royal family tree provided were useful. It would have been great if the glossary which is provided had been at the front of the book instead of the back as I didn’t find it until I’d almost finished the book!
    I’ll keep an eye out for other novels in this series. Thanks to the Beauty and Lace Book Club and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read this novel.

  4. An interesting mix of history intertwined with mystery, and vivid storytelling.
    Perveen Mistry is Bombay’s only female lawyer and working in her father’s law firm in 1922 and she is sent to the remote Satapur region to offer her legal assistance to two maharajahs who have subjected themselves to purdah (seclusion away from men). They disagree on the education of the young maharaja and she also discovers that the previous maharaja and his surviving eldest son died in rather mysterious circumstances.

    The locations are vividly described and I loved the detail placed into the history, and culture of this book. This book is a great read and doesn’t rely on reading the first novel. Thank you Beauty and Lace Book Club and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read this novel.

  5. Thank you Beauty and Lace Book Club and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read the novel The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey. The descriptions of location, atmosphere and complexity of 1920’s India under British Colonial Rule were vividly described in a way that made the novel thoroughly enjoyable and without unnecessary historical information. The main character of Perveen is easily liked and readers follow her journey to help solve the mysteries in Satapur, as well as follow her thoughts and opinions on feminism and inequity, British Control of India, Indian Royalty, the Caste system and difficulties faced by a marriage failure for a 20 something Indian Female at the time. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a mystery to solve and also those who like a novel set with a historical basis or needing inspiration of young women brave enough to attempt to be different and change the world around them.

  6. The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey was an interesting read for me. Quite different to my usual go to’s I initially found it a bit difficult to get in to, but persevered and found the story definitely got better. I didn’t realise it was the second book in a series, but I don’t think I missed out on not having read the first one. I appreciated having the map and the family tree at the beginning of the book as it helped make sense of who was who within the story. One thing that I was a bit frustrated with was discovering the Glossary at the end of the book after I had finished reading. How much this would have helped me along the way as there were so many times I just didn’t understand what was happening or being said! Out of pure coincidence though, before I received the book I happened to watch the movie Viceroy’s House. This actually helped a lot in my understanding about British India so am glad I had seen that before reading the book.
    The story took a little while to get going but initially gives you some background on the main character Perveen Mistry who is Bombay’s first female lawyer. It makes you understand the difficult and unusual circumstances she finds herself in by being a female lawyer in the 1920’s.
    Perveen is sent to the kingdom of Satapur to help settle a dispute in the royal family of where the young crown prince should be educated. Upon arriving she soon learns that there is so much more at play. With murder, jealousy and revenge all on the cards it soon becomes a big mystery where everyone is under suspicion and needs to be solved quickly before either the crown prince or she herself gets killed!
    A good read where I found the ending satisfying, especially the last sentence!
    Thank you to Beauty & Lace and to Allen & Unwin for the chance to discover yet another new author who’s first book I am now going to track down!

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