Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest

Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest

4.5 12
by Waheed Rabbani

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Book I of a trilogy covering India's freedom from the British Raj. In 1965, Doctor Margaret's sea chest, containing her diaries, is discovered in a hospital in Delhi. Margaret, born in New Jersey, marries her Canadian cousin. They serve in the 1854 Crimean war. There they have to face not only hardships of battles, but also other conflicts, before Margaret can


Book I of a trilogy covering India's freedom from the British Raj. In 1965, Doctor Margaret's sea chest, containing her diaries, is discovered in a hospital in Delhi. Margaret, born in New Jersey, marries her Canadian cousin. They serve in the 1854 Crimean war. There they have to face not only hardships of battles, but also other conflicts, before Margaret can continue on her journey to India.

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In 1965, a sea chest of more than 100 years is discovered in the storage room of a hospital in Delhi. 14 CD Set

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Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
The_Reading_Reviewer More than 1 year ago
The story of Doctor Margaret Wallace is told through family history, folklore and the three volumes of her diary. She is a woman you struggled not to become just another female statistic during the mid-1800's. Margaret wanted what was perceived as an unattainable goal - to become a doctor. She realized the joy of healing and saving lives and fought her parents, a system set up against her and the disapproval of society who viewed her as part of a weaker sex. During this voyage of her life as the story unfolds we are given insight to the plight of life as a minister's child, trying to be with the man she loves and the struggles of India to gain freedom from England. What is unique about this story is that it is told in the setting of the mid 1960's by a man who discovers Dr. Margaret's sea chest and is given the duty of returning it to her family. Knowing nothing about who the people are or how to find them the journey begins for Doctor Walidad "Walli" Sharif an American doctor living in India for a year. Through his wife's connections in Canada the sea chest and Walli are tossed here and there until it is returned to the descendents of Dr. Wallace and the adventure for Walli really beings. What Walli and his wife never thought would happen is encounters with the FBI, CIA and KGB all in the same day. This is thought to be a simple sea chest owned by a gentile woman but too soon they all discover there is so much to be learned from Dr. Margaret's history that Walli reads the journals and turns them into the most intriguing historical documentary. In writing this review there was so many aspects to cover about this book but it was very difficult to explain without giving too much away. This is a book that requires you to pay close attention to the details and absorb all the history that is being retold from a participant's point of view that are living a hundred years apart in time. It may be hard to switch from one century to another for some readers but if you stay with the book you will quickly learn that both POVs are critical to the storyline and as equally engaging. What stood out for me in particular were Margaret and Robert who even at their most venerable were still strong and independent thinkers. Margaret's depth of character as both a doctor and a woman revealed her capacity to be everything she wanted and more as she is ready to take on anyone that dare hurt her or her family. Mary Gramlich is "The Reading Reviewer" located at
Author_DB_Pacini More than 1 year ago
Margaret, the main character, fascinates me from the beginning of this novel to the end. As a lovely child she charmed me with her inquisitive mind. As a young woman she impressed me with her determination to become a doctor when society adamantly blocked women from seeking careers in male dominated fields. This beautiful Margaret, this strong willed, capable, quick-witted, and resourceful woman, repeatedly triumphs over tremendous challenges to become an inspiring and admirable female role model in her time in history and in ours. Waheed Rabbani successfully creates a persuasive tale filled with international plots and guarded secrets. This story connects readers with characters living in 1965 as well as with characters that lived more than a hundred years before. American doctor Wallidad Sharif is originally from Delhi. He has returned to his birth country on a one year medical contract. When the assignment nears its end, he is asked to do a fascinating task. An ancient and securely locked sea chest has been discovered in a hospital storage room. It is believed to be over 100 years old, the property of one of America's first female doctors, Dr. Margaret Wallace. Will Dr. Sharif take possession of her sea chest and try to locate her descendants in the United States and in Canada? Dr. Sharif and his wife Alexandra accept this intriguing undertaking and are soon thrown into a web of danger and conspiracy, being pursued by Russian agents, related to a priceless hidden royal crown, authentic war maps, and remarkable events of history not recorded in modern day history books. I highly recommend this book. It is the first in a trilogy, and its author Waheed Rabbani masterfully delivers. He is a new literary voice worthy of your attention. I anxiously await the second novel in this trilogy.
LarissaA More than 1 year ago
Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest" - Book I of "The Azadi Trilogy" Reading this book is an experience in history, suspense and intrigues. The novel portrays the extraordinary life of an American woman doctor, who, due to her upbringing, family ties and chosen profession finds herself in the heart of significant historical events of the time. Dr. Margaret's possessions, discovered in a dusty basement of the rural hospital, in Delhi, hold the clues of the turbulent events in Indian history. The importance of the discovery resonates to the present days, and not everyone is keen to expose the historical truth. The book makes us understand the past events through the feelings and experiences of the heroine. This is what literature is all about. The vivid description of the historical settings adds the authenticity to the artful narration. Read this fascinated book and discover the richness of plot and colorful details of life in faraway places. The book is extremely interesting and educational, true to the chronological events and locations. Ending of Book I of the Trilogy prepares the reader for the excitement of the unfolding mystery, conflicts and anticipation of more thrilling actions.
Polly1931 More than 1 year ago
Although Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest is well-written and easy to read, an inordinate amount of information requires a reader's undivided attention to absorb all the inner intricacies of this epic historical novel. Indian born, American Doctor Walidad (Walli) Sharif is on contract with a Delhi hospital for one year and is given the task of returning a sea chest, well over 100 years old and left at the hospital, to the owner's rightful relatives. The owner is believed to be an American woman doctor, Margaret Wallace. Unfortunately, no one knows who or where the relatives live. When eventually Dr. Sharif returns to his home in Grimsby, Ontario, he and his wife locate the relatives and are given permission to open the chest. Inside, Dr. Margaret's diary is found. Expecting to read a day-by-day account of life in a hospital, instead a complicated plot unfolds. The reader is immediately transported from the present (1965) to the past, over a 100-year span, starting with Delhi during India's struggle for freedom from the British Raj, on to Canada and Elizabeth, New Jersey (Margaret's home town.) Doctor Margaret travels to Central Asia, Turkey, Russia and Afghanistan. She witnesses the famous battle of The Charge of the Light Brigade, where her husband is killed. As a child, she sees her parents in the act of illegally transporting slave children to freedom in Canada. Echoes of freedom ring throughout this tale. However, this story is mainly about Margaret, a strong, compassionate woman, who from early childhood dreams of becoming a medical doctor, unheard of in the middle 19th century. Against strong objections from her parents, she enrolls in a medical college for women and upon graduation she begins her journey in life, starting with love, marriage, children to wars, mystery and intrique in countries far away. The characters in this novel are well-developed, and although the plot is complicated, the story is believable. It is obvious the author, Waheed Rabbani, did his research. I would have assumed Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest was written by a woman because of Mr. Rabbbani's understanding of women's struggle for equality and the strong character of Margaret Wallace. I look forward to his next tale in "The Azaadi Trilogy". Mr. Rabbani is a master storyteller. Pauline Hager, author of Giorgi's Greek Tragedy, a historical novel.
SuzyWatts More than 1 year ago
The first part of the Azadi Trilogy begins in India in 1965. An old sea chest has been discovered in the hospital where Dr Wallidad Sharif is spending a year away from his American practice, working in Delhi. The chest has lain unnoticed and unclaimed since 1856, and has only recently come to light. Dr Sharif is asked to take the trunk to America when he returns home with a view to finding the owner's family and delivering the contents to them. He becomes enthralled with the owner of the chest, a Dr Margaret Wallace, and discovers that there may be a connection between her and his own ancestors. His wife, who is a lawyer, joins him in the quest, and together they piece together the story of the lady doctor, and how her sea chest came to be abandoned at St Stanleys Hospital in Delhi. The diary of Dr Sharif's grandfather also comes to light at this time, and he is able to cross-reference many aspects of Dr Margaret's history. The action is mostly split into two time frames - the 1850s, when Dr Margaret was a fledgling doctor and used her skills to tend to wounded soldiers in the Crimea before moving on to India, and the 1960s, when her story unfolds through the pages of her journals, which are found in the sea chest. Also found in the trunk is a lost treasure, which is being sought by both the CIA and KGB! There is a fascinating insight into the struggle that women in the mid 19th century had to endure to practice medicine. It was thought undignified for women to see the naked body of a man, and only the persistence of people like Florence Nightingale proved that women were more than capable of being nurses and doctors. The book ends as the families gather to read the third of the journals, which looks set to contain more startling revelations, and the scene is set for part two of the Trilogy. A well researched and beautifully written story.
Mystee More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting historical read. We follow Margaret through many twists and turns in her goals to not just be the same as every other female in the 1800s. She grew up as the child of a minister and wanted to be a doctor. She didn't want to be seen as women were in that time period. She wanted to be more. A neat twist in this book: it's not actually told in the 1800s. It's told in the 1960s by someone who found her chest filled with stories to her life. You do need to pay attention and follow the book. It's a refreshing way to get a little history as someone is discovering things that were a hundred years before them. It does do some back and forth century changing, but I didn't find it hard to follow. There's also more history included as you dig through Margaret's Seachest and learn some various cultural traditions. This books combine many areas: Russia, India, England, etc. A handy glossary is included at the back of the book to help with some terms. I found this book to be a very entertaining read. It's perfect for a colder night, a nice fire and a cup of tea. RATING: ??? Pages: 417 Softcover
fljustice More than 1 year ago
"Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest" is the first book in a sprawling epic trilogy by Waheed Rabbani. The story in this debut novel spans over a hundred years and half the world; from mid-1960's India to pre-Civil War America. But the story always returns to the themes of freedom-national, personal, and gender. We have national struggles for independence, slaves being transported along the "Underground Railroad" from the U.S. to Canada, and the struggle of one young woman to fulfill her destiny and become a doctor. It starts with the story of Dr. Walidad Sharif, an American doctor living in Delhi for a year-"giving back" to his family's country for his good fortune. The reader gets a beautiful evocation of the city-its architecture, culture, history, poverty, and diversity-through Dr. Sharif's encounters with staff and his extended family. I loved the intimate details of different cultures: greetings, clothes, food. I could smell the curry and see the dancing girl at a family gathering. Dr Sharif learns of his own families' involvement in the famous Indian "Mutiny" of 1857 (also known as India's First War of Independence) through his grandfather's journal. But at the heart of this visit is a mystery: an unopened sea chest belonging to an American lady doctor (it's unknown whether she's from the US or Canada) who was a missionary in India during the rebellion. She disappeared and no one knows her fate. Dr. Sharif is tasked with finding her heirs (if they exist) and returning the sea chest to them when he returns home. But the existence of the artifact has caught the attention of the Soviet KGB who attempt to steal it. And when he accomplishes his mission, Dr. Sharif gets a visit from the CIA. The historical action then turns to the owner of the sea chest: Dr. Margaret Wallace. Through her diaries we follow her yearning as a girl and young woman to become a physician (against the wishes of her family and society), her romance with her handsome Canadian cousin (against the wishes of both their families), and her subsequent trip to India via the Crimea War and the Charge of the Light Brigade. By the end, some questions are answered, but not all, setting the reader up for the second book in the trilogy. Waheed Rabbani brings his own international experience to this sweeping story: born in India; educated in Pakistan, England and Canada; he grew up reading Victorian and Edwardian literature; drawn to the stories of the British Raj and India's struggle for independence. His take on this story from India's point of view is refreshing and entertaining.
mdyetmetaphor More than 1 year ago
"Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest" takes the reader on an intriguing journey spanning India, the U.S. and Canada complete with encounters with the KGB and the FBI. Along the way there is romance, intrigue, treachery and adventure. In short, there is a never a dull moment in this first book of a historical fiction trilogy. The novel alternates between the perspectives of Doctor Wallidad Sharif in the 1960's and Doctor Margaret Wallace (one of the first female doctors in the U.S.) in the 1850's. Both perspectives are effectively presented. But, as the novel progresses, Margaret's perspective comes to the fore and carries the plot. In his portrait of Doctor Wallace, Waheed Rabbani paints a vivid picture of a determined woman ahead of her time. A shocking development late in Book 1 reveals yet another side of this intrepid heroine. All of this is played out against the backdrop of historical events. I can't comment on the accuracy with which these events are portrayed but they certainly ring true. If you enjoy historical fiction, I highly recommend "Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest". It's a compelling tale from a skilled novelist.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waheed Rabbani's historical novel takes readers on an epic journey to meet key families representing three continents down through several generations since the 1850s. The book opens with a helpful family tree diagram of the Wallace, Barinowsky and Sharif families, followed by a first-person Prologue to draw readers into the fictional narrative woven into a dream sequence. The author sets the time period of 1965 with topical references to the Beetle vehicle and fashion observations, and notes the setting at locations like Dufferin Hospital. The use of native Indian dialect places the reader within the story as though walking by the side of the introspective narrator. Flowers like oleanders, hibiscus, and roses provide colorful detail to set the India scenes, along with the cultural and seasonal languor of an unhurried sunset: "the late afternoon sun stretched its lazy, golden fingers through my second-floor office windowpanes, signalling the end of the day...." (p. 16). Descriptions of Delhi help readers to visualize this exotic Asian land in preparation for the suspenseful story. As the plot unfolds, references to the Mughal Empire and surrounding regions of Sikhs, Persians, and Afghans locate the reader securely against the history-laced backdrop. Mr. Rabbani does a fine job of describing and intersecting two distinct cultures - that of title character Margaret in the 1800s, and the Indian narrator's 100 years later in the 1960s. Landmarks like Humayun's tomb bring India to life for global readers as well as intertwine historical events of India's Revolution with the narrator's personal family history. Rabbani offers his readers more than mere entertainment by providing explanations of Indian and Muslim customs and greetings as well as a brief history of Canada's fight for independence. Throughout the story the narrator pursues the philosophical notion of azadi, or freedom, to interest readers from any time period and culture, for we are all intrigued by the haunting lure of personal, cultural, or national freedoms. Perhaps the most symbolic gesture of freedom is when Margaret's parents help the African-American slave Harriet and her parents escape to Canada. The intrigue of Margaret Wallace's history begins in the first chapter with the assigned task of returning her just-located sea trunk left in India to any relatives that might be alive. Dr. Walli's connection to the 1857 Indian Rebellion forges a link to the long-gone Dr. Margaret and her mysterious trunk. Thus early in the book are readers drawn to the puzzling significance of the trunk to Indian freedom and Margaret's Russian descendents. Tension builds early on with the Cold War as backdrop to a Russian embassy worker trying to get the sea chest from Dr. Walli. The doctor's subsequent discoveries of his grandfather's journal and a very special map and poster lead to amazing implications that draw Dr. Walli and his beautiful wife more deeply into the mystery of Dr. Margaret's shadowy past. Rather than spoil the plot with too many details, let me conclude by emphasizing the painstaking research Mr. Rabbani has taken with his novel to highlight facts from the quest for freedom in India, the U.S., and Canada. Above it all rises the contemplative Dr. Walli and the elusive Margaret who haunts his dreams in a quest for the peace that only he can give her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago