Book Review – Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand

I heard about this book from the author when I visited the Bath Literary Festival in March 2015 and listened to her speak.  I was so intrigued by the subject of her talk that I bought a copy.  Once I started reading I was fascinated by Sophia and her story.  I meant to loan it to my 90 year old mother, who was a fan of Ms Anand’s and her presentation of ‘Any Answers’ on BBC radio, as I felt she would enjoy it.  But it is a long book and I knew with the other reading and writing projects on the go it would take me some time to finish it so I bought another copy especially for mum.  Sadly she never got round to reading it and passed away earlier this year aged 94.  Now I have at last finished reading the book and found it a very enjoyable read.

The author has obviously put a great deal of time and effort into researching her subject.  It traces the ancestry of Sofia, from her father Maharajah Duleep Singh through her life with her siblings in the court of Queen Victoria, her activities as a suffragette, her support for the freedoms sought by the peoples of her native India and two world wars.  She was a rebel for her time and ran foul of the British establishment, particularly during the period she was an active suffragette when she challenged them to imprison her for her protests but were too frightened to do so.  Because of this the details of her life were buried by the authorities.  But because of this book they have now been uncovered.  This makes the writing of Sofia’s story a remarkable achievement of which the author can be proud.

It is an extremely worthwhile read and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in the political struggles endured by women in the twentieth century.

Keith Jahans

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing
in hard cover, paperback and as an ebook and audiobook.

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