Step into colonial Calcutta and prepare for a wild adventure of intrigue and deceit, complicated interpersonal relationships, and a hard-fought quest for vindication. Two Coins is well-written historic fiction based on an actual court case dubbed “The Great Scandal of British Calcutta.”
Mary Pigot is the Lady Superintendent of the Scottish Female Mission, which serves as a girl’s orphanage as well as a school for orphans and local girls alike. The Mission also provides important support for local women, both spiritual and economic. It is a vital and well-loved part of the community and had thrived for many years before Mr. Hastie came into the picture.
Reverend William Hastie, the incoming Principal of the Scottish College in Calcutta, arrives in India with immediate intent to change how things are run. He’s disgusted to see a woman with so much power and so little male oversight and determines to change that. When he fails to take the Female Mission into his purview, he decides to take down the woman on top. A deep feud develops between Mr. Hastie and Miss Pigot, which adds fuel to the fire. Mr. Hastie charges Miss Pigot with mismanagement of the Female Mission as well as immorality.
Miss Pigot travels to Scotland to clear her name and manages to do so, but the charges are relentless. After 10 years of hard work at the mission, her reputation and career are both in ruins. Rather than disappear into the background as Mr. Hastie desires, Miss Pigot sues Mr. Hastie for malicious libel. The case becomes an international sensation. Not only are the facts and witness testimonies shocking, but a woman publicly suing a man is a true scandal. The story fills newspapers and nearly destroys everyone involved. Yet it’s Miss Pigot’s only shot at redemption.
Sandra Wagner-Wright does a masterful job bringing the scene to life. Well-researched and colorful, readers step back in time and experience the trials and tribulations alongside her well-developed characters. Miss Pigot and Mr. Hastie’s motivations, thoughts, backgrounds, interactions, and actions are thoroughly laid out. You’ll likely find yourself drawn to and rooting for one character or the other; they’re polar opposites who vehemently believe their side is right and they’re working for the greater good. Yet both cannot prevail.
It took a bit of time to really get into this story, but patient readers will be rewarded. Wagner-Wright truly hits her stride when it comes to the court case, and readers won’t be able to put the book down. At around 500 pages, this is no light read. It’s a forgotten tale of power, corruption, and women’s rights based on a true story. Readers will be shocked and delighted.
Are two coins all a lady’s reputation is worth?
|Page Count||541 pages|
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