Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest by Waheed Rabbani

EDIT: This author has repeatedly harassed, belittled, and criticized me for the contents of my review in email, despite my insistence that this is my opinion. Be warned.

Book Details:
Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest
By Waheed Rabbani
Genre: Fiction
Published 2008,
Paperback, 417 pages
ISBN: 9781849231770

          "Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest" is Book I of a trilogy covering India's struggle for freedom from the British Raj.
American Doctor Margaret's sea chest is discovered in a hospital in Delhi. The coffer contains her diaries and other artifacts.
Margaret, despite facing tremendous obstacles, is one of the first American women doctors to graduate in 1850. She marries her Canadian cousin. They travel to serve in the 1854 Crimean war. There they have to not only face hardships of battles, but also endure other conflicts.
The surprise ending of Book I, leaves Margaret in a quandary on whether to seek revenge or to continue on with her journey to India.
The synopsis on the back of the book confused me before I began reading, as it seemed to tell me the plot for the entire trilogy, instead of just this first book. I also struggled with staying interested in the book, as every page is saturated with foreign words and expressions that I needed to look up in the Glossary at the end of the book if I wanted to understand anything. It was quickly apparent that the history of India also played a major role in the plot of this book, as the author spends large chunks of time teaching the reader about India through the thoughts and conversations of the characters.
I felt like the plot really dragged its heels in progressing, and I often got lost in the details, unsure of what I was supposed to be focusing on the most.
In short, I simply could not progress with the book. I stalled on page 72, and I never picked it back up. Maybe I was not in the right frame of mind to read it, maybe it was too intimidating, I don't know, but if I feel like I am forcing myself to read the book when I struggle to stay focused after only a page, then the book is not for me.

The Cover: While the cover image does match the contents of the book, I am rather unimpressed with the cartoon-ish quality of the woman on the cover. Lacking an actual photograph of a woman to represent Doctor Margaret, the cover would have been better without her presence.

First Line: "The full moon hung in a cloudless sky, like a lantern held by an invisible force."
This is beautiful imagery for the first line, though it does little in the way of telling me about the actual plot.

Read For: Outdo Yourself Challenge

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher for review purposes.*


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