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Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest (The Azadi) Paperback – December 8, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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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'?
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Product Details

  • Series: The Azadi (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Historical Novels Publishing; 1st 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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,754,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

About the Author

Waheed Rabbani's The Azadi Series:Book I "Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest" won an 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, 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 McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada and embark on his writing journey.

Waheed's historical fiction The Azadi Series, Book I: Doctor Margaret's Sea Chest, and Book II: Doctor Margaret in Delhi, are available at all Amazon, 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

Top Customer Reviews

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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Although this well-written book is 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 Wallidad (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 for Dr. Sharif, no one knows who or where the relatives live. When he eventually returns to his home in Grimsby, Ontario, Walli Sharif 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's pleasantries, instead a complicated plot unfolds. The reader is transported from the present to the past; with over a 100-year span, starting with Delhi during India's struggle for freedom from the British Raj, then back to Canada to Elizabeth, New Jersey (Margaret's home town) to Central Asia, Turkey, Russia and Afghanistan. Famous battles such as The Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War, and the transporting of slaves to freedom in Canada are echoes of freedom from their colonial masters', rings throughout the story. However, this book 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 intrigue in countries far away.Read more ›
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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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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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