Sophia: Book summary and reviews of Sophia by Anita Anand

Sophia

Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary

by Anita Anand

Sophia by Anita Anand
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2015
    432 pages
    Genre: Biographies/Memoirs

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Book Summary

In 1876 Sophia Duleep Singh was born into Indian royalty. Her father, Maharajah Duleep Singh, was heir to the Kingdom of the Sikhs, one of the greatest empires of the Indian subcontinent, a realm that stretched from the lush Kashmir Valley to the craggy foothills of the Khyber Pass and included the mighty cities of Lahore and Peshawar. It was a territory irresistible to the British, who plundered everything, including the fabled Koh-I-Noor diamond.

Exiled to England, the dispossessed Maharajah transformed his estate at Elveden in Suffolk into a Moghul palace, its grounds stocked with leopards, monkeys and exotic birds. Sophia, god-daughter of Queen Victoria, was raised a genteel aristocratic Englishwoman: presented at court, afforded grace and favor lodgings at Hampton Court Palace and photographed wearing the latest fashions for the society pages. But when, in secret defiance of the British government, she travelled to India, she returned a revolutionary.

Sophia transcended her heritage to devote herself to battling injustice and inequality, a far cry from the life to which she was born. Her causes were the struggle for Indian Independence, the fate of the lascars, the welfare of Indian soldiers in the First World War – and, above all, the fight for female suffrage. She was bold and fearless, attacking politicians, putting herself in the front line and swapping her silks for a nurse's uniform to tend wounded soldiers evacuated from the battlefields. Meticulously researched and passionately written, this enthralling story of the rise of women and the fall of empire introduces an extraordinary individual and her part in the defining moments of recent British and Indian history.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Anand writes with a journalist's sense for a solid story and a historian's eye for fascinating anecdotes. Filled with rich detail and walks through little-known avenues of the past." - Library Journal

"Sophia adds a previously unexplored facet to the tumultuous progressive era that remade the Western world." - Publishers Weekly

"A sturdy narrative of one woman's awakening and strength in the early 20th century as she witnessed the vast societal changes in India and England." - Kirkus

"A richly textured portrait...An excellent job of detailing the social and historical backdrop while highlighting the daring and revolutionary nature of Sophia's choices and accomplishments." - Booklist

"A groundbreaking work that at last tells the important story of Sophia Duleep Singh: unflinching princess-in-exile, doughty moderniser and tenacious suffragette...Sophia artfully examines the tensions between East and West; and one woman's choice between fighting for freedom and staying silent." - Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire

"This thoroughly absorbing and deftly informative account instantly pulled me into the irresistible adventure and vitality of Sophia Duleep Singh's defiant and innovative existence. Anand's timely biography is a wonderful testament to Sophia's lifetime of commitment to Indian independence and the advancement of women, and to the range and courage of her achievements." - Rachel Holmes, author of Eleanor Marx: A Life

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Anita Anand has been a radio and television journalist for almost twenty years. She is the presenter of Any Answers on BBC Radio 4. During her career, she has also presented Drive, Doubletake and the Anita Anand Show on Radio 5 Live, and Saturday Live, The Westminster Hour, Beyond Westminster, Midweek and Woman's Hour on Radio 4. On BBC television she has presented The Daily Politics, The Sunday Politics and Newsnight. She lives in west London. This is her first book.

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