Title: Women of the Raj
Author: Margaret MacMillan
Publisher: Thames & Hudson (November 1988)
The “British Era” word often brings to our minds the memories and stories which are rather painful and we feel a strong sense dislike and hatred towards the foreigners who ruled us. We remember the strong generals and their armies who ruled and ruined India for 200 years. But none of us has ever imagined about the women who accompanied them, their lives and their feeling about India. Over the years many books have been written about British Era but Margaret MacMillan takes a different approach by describing the history of British women living in India during the colonial period, their lives, voyages, desperations and their challenges. It's a study of history that gets overlooked in favour of more "important" things.
To make the readers understand the true lives of these memsahibs (British Women), Margaret adopts a brilliant methodology of narrating from first-hand accounts from letters and diaries along with interesting illustrations. Though written by a woman about the women, the book does not reek of feminism, rather it impartially analyses the behaviour of British women in raj in relation to society of the time. The author beautifully narrates the challenges faced by the women coming to an alien land, clashing beliefs and cultures and their story of raising children, bonding with the natives and constant voyages throughout the hostile foreign land. The book also traces the role of British women in India, whose primary purpose seems to have been to replicate Victorian society in the Raj. The author concentrates particularly the period of empire from the 1850s to 1947, and tries to recreates the role of the women of the Raj.
Many of the situations and living conditions described by the author can still be related to by the reader. The scorching heat, the wet rains and the mild winters can be felt by the reader while flipping through the pages. But...