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Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest Paperback – December 8, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: YouWriteOn; First Edition edition (December 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184923177X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849231770
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,061,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Rabbani's writing is evocative in many places and a pleasure to read .... The theme of freedom resonates throughout - India and Canada's pursuit of independence, the American slave trade, and Margaret's personal search for freedom in her life. Well-crafted and first in a planned series
- The SanFrancisco/Sacramento Review of Books

In these post-modern times when novel writers concentrate on churning out books of the pulp fiction variety, undertaking the writing of a trilogy on historic fiction is a gutsy move ... the first book of his proposed trilogy ... involving the struggle that began in 1857 and eventually led to freedom from the Raj.
-The Dawn News, Karachi, Pakistan

For the past six years Waheed Rabbani has learned a lot about the town he calls home.

Rabbani was a frequent visitor of the heritage archives and read as many local historical books as possible ... The historical fiction novel, recreates life in Grimsby during the 1800s.

The series also takes a look at India's history.

-- From Niagara This Week

From the Author

"The 1857 Indian Sepoy Mutiny was not a part of the 'Great Game'," the opinion of most notable historians was the intriguing premise that led me to start on this Trilogy. This debut novel throws a new spot light on some of the glossed over events, which took place over a century and half ago in the hot and dusty plains of Central India and in the cool arid mountains of Persia, Afghanistan and Central Europe.      

This historic fiction mystery novel of love, blood, sweat and tears for India's independence from the British Raj, is set in the three continents of America, Europe and Asia. As the time period spans the 19th and 20th centuries, the events are covered in three volumes, to make this large canvas story painting, interesting and manageable. Volume I, Dr MARGARET'S SEA CHEST, examines the mysteries surrounding the events of the 1857 Rebellion. The sad, but true incident of the sacking of the American Presbyterian Mission at Futtehgurh will also be explored. 

The dramatic opening describes an exciting event in 1965: the discovery of over a 100 year old long forgotten sea chest, belonging to a daughter of American Presbyterian missionaries, Doctor Margaret, in the storage room of a hospital in India's bustling metropolis, Delhi.

In 1852, Margaret marries her Canadian Cousin, a cavalry officer, and after spending some time in Upper Canada, follows him to Europe and war in the Crimea. After her husband's death in the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade, she joins her parents in India and takes up residency at a hospital in Delhi. Thereafter, the Rani of the Kingdom of Jhansi hires her. The Indian Sepoys' Rebellion breaks out in 1857.

In 1965, An American, Doctor Sharif, who happens to be visiting that hospital, is entrusted with the mission of finding the lost relatives of the lady doctor and returning the trunk to them. Based on the diaries found in the trunk and recollections of lost relatives of the last Moghul King, Bhadur Shah Zafar, Rani Luxmi, KGB and CIA agents and others, in dusty Indian villages, in posh North American and European mansions, this novel weaves a fine tale of warfare, British-Russian-Indian intrigue and poignant love between interesting characters of that era; all this told in the appealing voices of Doctors Margaret and Sharif who lived over a century apart.

The stirring conclusion of the novel will surely inspire readers to wonder if India's First War of Independence, which led to the start of the toll-road of their human sacrifices for independence; was it not a part of the 'Great Game'?

More About the Author

About the Author

Waheed Rabbani's The Azadi Trilogy:Book I "Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest" won a Honorable Mention Award in the 2012 Global eBooks Awards Competition.

Waheed Rabbani was born in India, near Delhi, and was introduced to Victorian and other English novels, at a very young age, in his father's library. Most of the large number of volumes, in the library, had been purchased by his father at 'garage sales' held, by departing British civil service officers and their families, in the last days of the Raj.

Waheed graduated from Loughborough University, Leicestershire, England, and received a Master's degree from Concordia University, Montreal, Canada. While an engineer by profession, Waheed's other love is reading and writing English literature that prompted him to obtain a Certificate in Creative Writing from the McMaster University and embark on his writing journey.

Waheed's historical fiction novel, The Azadi Trilogy, Book I: Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest, published by Youwriteon-Legend Press UK, is available at all Amazon, McNally Robinson, B&N and other Bookstores.

Waheed and his wife, Alexandra, are now settled on the shores of Lake Ontario in the historic town of Grimsby. More information is available on his website:

Customer Reviews

A well researched and beautifully written story.
Stephen Broderick
The sections set in India have such wonderful descriptions bringing the country to life so the reader feels he or she is there.
Joseph King
I recommend this book and anxiously await the next book in the trilogy.
Stacey aka Coffey Brown

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mary J. Gramlich VINE VOICE on June 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Francine L. Trevens on March 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book fascinated from the first page. It recreated famous historical moments from a very personal perspective with warmth and excitement. You become part of the underground railroad from the U.S. to Canada. You cheer when Dr Margaret gets into a new medical school started for women. You float from the present to the past, from the Soviet Union to India on cloud 9. The charge of the ligh brigade becomes a realty instead of just a great poem. Waheed Rabbani has created worlds within worlds and you are delighted to be in them all. Can't wait for the sequal! Best of all, the book is written from the point of view of a male doctor who gets the mission to return an antique sea chest to the family of a woman doctor - and finds strands connecting him to her in many diretions, almost like a spider's web, and the novelist has woven tht web to keep the story with you many years after you finish this first book of the set. Terrific read for men or women.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Christian on February 6, 2010
Format: Paperback
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tara VINE VOICE on November 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
I am somewhat on the fence with this one. On one hand, I really enjoyed Margaret's story. A young woman in 1840s early America and Canada wanting to break all the rules and become a doctor really appeals to me. On the other hand, however, the other parts did about a male doctor in the 1960s didn't interest me that much. His character was likeable, but his parts had a James Bond type feel to them, partly due to the 1960s setting and partly due to the action and mystery and Russians with guns. I kept expecting his pretty Indian nurse or the Russian bookseller to throw themselves at him.

While Walli is trying to transport and solve the mystery of the hundred year old sea chest and dodging either bullets or avoiding car chases, the book takes us back to 1841 and Margaret wanting to be a doctor as well as having a forbidden romance with her cousin, Robert. I like Margaret's parts, but must question her going off with men and riding unescorted and unchaperoned in 1847. Young, unmarried ladies did not do that back then, most especially, minister's daughters. Too often, her story felt too modern and not 1847ish enough.

However, there was enough excitement and history to keep me intrigued. I enjoyed the romance between Margaret and Robert and I also liked reading about how Margaret ignored all the naysayers (mainly her parents) and became a doctor despite of all the hurdles in her path. Despite the historical innaccuracies and the modern day feel, I really liked her story. The Indian history merged with it very nicely.

Whereas Margaret's story could have used some tweeking as far as the cotton candy and running around unescorted and other things that stood out (Did they have water BOTTLES back then? How is it that Margaret's aunt seems familiar with her kids, but hasn't seen Margaret in years?) , Walli's parts were enriched with impeccable research. This author knows his Indian history.
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