disclosure: I won this book in a giveaway but have previously reviewed for the publisher
Back at the start of the year I won a copy of The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff in a Twitter giveaway, and I’ve just finished reading it, so thought I’d share it with you all. The hardback version of this novel will be published through Allen & Unwin on 2nd March 2023, and I can thoroughly recommend buying a copy.
The Bandit Queens is set in rural India and the story revolves around the main character, Geeta, and her interactions with those around her. She’s a Hindu woman, whose husband Ramesh, disappeared five years ago. Geeta has been ostracized by the village community, with many believing that she’s a wicked woman who has killed him. Little do they know that Geeta has no idea where her husband is, but her life, though hard, is so much better without him and his drinking and beatings. She has had to rebuild her life and is part of a local group of women making use of microloan schemes to find small enterprises. Geeta makes wedding jewelry and dreams one day of owning her own refrigerator.
There are four other women in Geeta’s loan group, headed by Saloni who was once Geeta’s best friend. Saloni is feared by many and likes to be in charge. As the story unfolds you become invested in the reignition of the friendship between Geeta and Saloni, which can only benefit both of them. But the story really starts when Farah, seen as the weakest in the group and definitely not the smartest, asks Geeta to help her kill her violent husband Samir, thinking that she knows all about murder and getting away with it.
So starts a journey of blackmail, murder, and building friendships built through the need for survival and a better life. These women live in a society where they have been the property of men, with no rights and they realise that actually they are stronger together and they deserve more.
I found The Bandit Queens a bit slow to start, but it’s definitely worth sticking with it and I did become totally enthralled by Geeta and her struggles. It’s a beautifully written novel and an interesting revenge thriller that makes you realise just how lucky we are, in the society we are living in and that all women deserve to live their lives with hopes and dreams and the opportunities to see them be their reality. It’s also a story of friendships, it quite simply, touched me.
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