Nov 072022
What was cooking in Calcutta?! [Review]
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Title: A Conspiracy in Calcutta (from the Songs of Freedom series)
Author: Lesley D. Biswas
Publisher: Duckbill
Type: Paperback
Pages: 144
Recommended Age: 12 years+ (10+ in case of advanced readers who enjoy historical fiction)

This is my second book from the songs of freedom series after ‘That Year at Manikoil’. Somehow these books have a way to touch your heart.

A Conspiracy in Calcutta takes you back to ancient Calcutta (now Kolkata) through the eyes of a young girl Bithi, who wants to make a difference in the independence struggle of India in her own way. But she is a girl and those days there were umpteen restrictions for girls which made it very hard for them to follow their heart.

The book made me feel I was a part of the entire student movement that started in Calcutta when Sir John Simon was sent to India in the year 1928 to study constitutional reforms in India. This had led to a huge uproar in the country and Calcutta was ground for strong movements by students with slogans of “Simon Go Back” across the city. The story is about a strong willed girl Bithi who was a part of that uproar. She wanted to help and wanted to be part of the bigger cause.

Bithi was fortunate in a way because her father was very supportive of her continuing to study while her best friend was getting married off at a very young age. This was indeed too much for her to handle. But keeping her head on her shoulders, she didn’t deter from the path she had chosen for herself.

The story is not about one Bithi or her struggle. It is about many such young people who did their best for their country. There were hurdles along the way but without their dedication and perseverance we wouldn’t have a free India today.

I absolutely loved the way the story takes turns and beautifully captures the emotions of different characters. While Bithi wanted to help and follow her heart, her mother was worried about her daughter going to learn to fight with lathis, her brother was all out involved in his secret meetings, her father silently supporting the kids and trying to maintain peace in the house and her grandmother supporting her brother just because he is a boy! But I was very touched by the part when Bithi decided to cut off her hair – why? Read the book to find out… The book touches upon many nuances of the turbulent times in the most simple and beautiful way.

You can read the reviews of The Chowpatty Cooking Club and The Train to Tanjore on this website. You can also explore the other newly released books in the Songs of Freedom series here.

If you enjoyed this review and wish to be a part of Bithi’s struggle, you may want to buy the book from Amazon (kbc affiliate link),


Disclaimer: We are proud to be part of the #kbcReviewerSquad and received this book as a review copy from the publisher.

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