A woman sues a Scotsman, head of the mission and pillar of the Church, for libel in late 1800s Calcutta. Who is she--the Empress of India? No, she's a relative nobody, the head of an orphanage and school in Calcutta. How does she even find a lawyer...how does this even get on the court's docket? This actually happened. But, that's about all 'we' know for sure. Who are these people and what does their experience tell us about the life and times?
This is an artful work. Taking what was undoubtedly a mass of dry correspondence and trial testimonies (though the news accounts might have been spicier) Wagner-Wright fleshes out this cast of very human characters with very believable dialogues and enmeshing events and behaviors. The result is a very entertaining and readable book with 3-D characters jumping out of the 2-D accounts of that day.