100 books like Bengal Journey

By Rumer Godden,

Here are 100 books that Bengal Journey fans have personally recommended if you like Bengal Journey. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Fair Sex - Women and the Great Western Railway

Annie Murray Author Of Meet Me Under the Clock

From my list on hidden corners of life during World War Two.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing novels for many years now about the social history of Birmingham and the West Midlands and often find myself writing about World War Two. It’s the history of most families in this country. But I also grew up—unusually for my generationwith parents who were active adults in the war, my father in the army in North Africa and Italy, my mother in a factory that had gone over to munitions in Coventry. So the war felt very present as they talked about it a lot. Only later I grew to understand what it means to people and explored the history for myself.

Annie's book list on hidden corners of life during World War Two

Annie Murray Why did Annie love this book?

When I wrote my book, which includes a lot about the railways wartime, I struggled to find any books which described women’s experience. When it comes to railways, nerdy descriptions of wheel configurations abound! Enter this book. Rose Matheson describes the fascinating and often troubled history of women when it comes to railway work and its opposition by male employers and unions. A good number of women were employed by the railways in World War Two, but never allowed to drive engines or stoke the fires. The work they were permitted to do is described here with plenty of photographs—as well as the ongoing history after the war when women continued the struggle to be taken seriously as railway workers.  

By Rosa Matheson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fair Sex - Women and the Great Western Railway as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Great Western Railway struggled with what was called 'the women question' for many years. It had heartily agreed with The Railway Sheet and Official Gazette that 'the first aim of women's existence is marriage, that accomplished, the next is ordering her home'. Yet women were the cheapest form of labour, apart from young girls, presenting the company with a dilemma and the GWR finally succumbed to allowing women to work after heavy external pressures. Using over 100 pictures, Swindon author Rosa Matheson traces the development of this problematic relationship, from its beginnings in the 1870s when women were employed…


Book cover of Idle Women

Annie Murray Author Of Meet Me Under the Clock

From my list on hidden corners of life during World War Two.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing novels for many years now about the social history of Birmingham and the West Midlands and often find myself writing about World War Two. It’s the history of most families in this country. But I also grew up—unusually for my generationwith parents who were active adults in the war, my father in the army in North Africa and Italy, my mother in a factory that had gone over to munitions in Coventry. So the war felt very present as they talked about it a lot. Only later I grew to understand what it means to people and explored the history for myself.

Annie's book list on hidden corners of life during World War Two

Annie Murray Why did Annie love this book?

I have written two books about working life on the canal set during World War Two. Susan Woolfit’s book describing that period is a great read. Many men who worked narrowboats carrying coal and other important cargoes left to go to war. This left the women to cope—and there were not enough of them, so volunteers were drafted in. Women from all walks of life who had often never been near a narrowboat and whose upbringing was vastly different from the women who lived ‘on the cut’ all their lives. This is an entertaining book about some of those women adapting to this tough, outdoor life—and all of them having to adapt to each other. 

By Susan Woolfitt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Idle Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Joyce's War 1939-1945

Annie Murray Author Of Meet Me Under the Clock

From my list on hidden corners of life during World War Two.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing novels for many years now about the social history of Birmingham and the West Midlands and often find myself writing about World War Two. It’s the history of most families in this country. But I also grew up—unusually for my generationwith parents who were active adults in the war, my father in the army in North Africa and Italy, my mother in a factory that had gone over to munitions in Coventry. So the war felt very present as they talked about it a lot. Only later I grew to understand what it means to people and explored the history for myself.

Annie's book list on hidden corners of life during World War Two

Annie Murray Why did Annie love this book?

Personal stories are usually the best way of getting the flavour of a time. Joyce Storey, who would describe herself as an ordinary working-class woman, married in 1939. Her story tells of the everyday struggles of a young mother of two daughters with a husband absent in the RAF. She spent some of the war living with him when he was posted to Grimsbyvery foreign to her as she came from Bristoland with all the everyday battles of in-laws, air raids, and struggling for every penny. She’s a lively writer, conjuring up pictures of her new neighbours in Grimsby, the birth of her babies, and early motherhood ‘Yuk!’which she did grow into. You get very fond of Joyce and her challenges.

By Joyce Storey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Joyce's War 1939-1945 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of Our Joyce's war, 1939-1945, with the destiny everyone else wanted to carve out for her. With an army husband rarely on leave, Joyce, very quickly the mother of two, fights her own battles with air-raids, in-laws and factory work - always searching for the dream house and a life to call her own. The author also wrote "Our Joyce".


Book cover of Requiem For a Wren

Annie Murray Author Of Meet Me Under the Clock

From my list on hidden corners of life during World War Two.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing novels for many years now about the social history of Birmingham and the West Midlands and often find myself writing about World War Two. It’s the history of most families in this country. But I also grew up—unusually for my generationwith parents who were active adults in the war, my father in the army in North Africa and Italy, my mother in a factory that had gone over to munitions in Coventry. So the war felt very present as they talked about it a lot. Only later I grew to understand what it means to people and explored the history for myself.

Annie's book list on hidden corners of life during World War Two

Annie Murray Why did Annie love this book?

I read this story in my teens and as a result, spent years wanting to join the navy. (That did wear off!) Having read it again recently, it seems a much darker story than I had remembered. But the mystery at its heart won’t let you go. Nevil Shute was a great storyteller and like many writers of his generation had many experiences to draw on. The story is quite slow-moving, but poignantheartbreaking in fact. Gradually, he unfolds the mystery of Jessie Proctor, an Englishwoman working for a family in Australia. It begins with Jessie’s suicide and we uncover the events that have haunted this young, ex-servicewoman’s life. As Shute says, "a war can go on killing people for a long time after it’s all over."  

By Nevil Shute,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Requiem For a Wren as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mysterious death of a young woman on an Australian farm reveals a bittersweet story of doomed wartime romance amidst a family crisis.

Alan Duncan returns to his family home in Australia after the war and several years of study in England. But his homecoming is marred by the mysterious suicide of his parents' quiet and reliable parlour-maid. A search through her belongings in search of clues leads to heartbreaking revelations about the woman's identity, the death of Alan's brother Bill and, above all, the disappearance of his brother's fiancee, Janet.


Book cover of The Home and the World

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Author Of Independence

From my list on the many mysteries of India.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer and a professor, I love sharing knowledge of my birth country (India) and the experiences of Indian immigrants in America. My first book, Arranged Marriage, is about the transformed lives of immigrant women and won an American Book Award. Mistress of Spices is about a spice-shop owner who knows magic, was a national bestseller, and became a film. One Amazing Thing is a multicultural novel about nine people trapped by an earthquake, was a Citywide Read in over 25 US cities. Recently, fascinated by the richness of Indian history, I have delved into it in novels like The Last Queen, set in the 1800s, and Independence, set in the 1940s. 

Chitra's book list on the many mysteries of India

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni Why did Chitra love this book?

Tagore’s novel, though set in the same time period as Forster’s, invited me into a very different India—the interior of a great, mysterious mansion and the minds and hearts of the women who live there, especially Bimala, the heroine. It helped me understand the freedom movement that was taking shape against the British, the desire of women to be part of this adventure, and the corruption and greed that crept in among the patriots. It’s a coming-of-age story and a love story, too.  

By Rabindranath Tagore, William Radice (editor), Surendranath Tagore (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Home and the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set on a Bengali noble's estate in 1908, this is both a love story and a novel of political awakening. The central character, Bimala, is torn between the duties owed to her husband, Nikhil, and the demands made on her by the radical leader, Sandip. Her attempts to resolve the irreconciliable pressures of the home and world reflect the conflict in India itself, and the tragic outcome foreshadows the unrest that accompanied Partition in 1947.


Book cover of The Last Kashmiri Rose

Laura C. Stevenson Author Of All Men Glad and Wise: A Mystery

From my list on mysteries that make a time and place come alive.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an historian who writes novels, and an avid reader of historical murder mysteries—especially ones whose characters are affected by social, religious, and political change. Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the breakup of rural British estates between 1880 and 1925, when, in a single generation, the amount of British land owned by the aristocracy fell from 66% to perhaps 15%. I thought it might be interesting to set a “country house” mystery on one of the failing estates, with a narrator influenced by the other great change of the period: from horses to automobiles. “Interesting” was an understatement; writing it was eye-opening.  

Laura's book list on mysteries that make a time and place come alive

Laura C. Stevenson Why did Laura love this book?

 The Last Kashmiri Rose: Murder and Mystery in the Final Days of the Raj is the first of Barbara Cleverly’s 13 Joe Sandilands mysteries. In March of 1922, Sandilands’ return to Scotland Yard from Calcutta is delayed by Bengal’s governor, who sends him to a military post where his niece Nancy’s husband is Controller. Nancy’s best friend has committed suicide, according to the local police. But Nancy has learned that since 1911, four other officers’ wives have died in peculiarly violent circumstances. After Sandilands’ investigation uncovers a series of murders, he looks for the murderer amidst tea parties, dances, picnics, and dinners. The portrait of Anglo-Indian society, in which every need is supplied by socially invisible native servants, is excellent.

By Barbara Cleverly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Kashmiri Rose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

India 1922. In Panikhat, 50 miles from Calcutta, the wives of officers in the Bengal Greys have been dying violently, one every year and each in March. All the deaths are bizarre and appear to be accidental. The only link between them is the bunch of small red roses that appear on the women's graves on the anniversary of their deaths. In order to help solve these mysterious deaths, the Governor of Bengal calls on the reluctant help of Joe Sandilands, Scotland Yard detective and war hero who happens to be on secondment to the Bengal police. Joe learns that…


Book cover of Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945

Robert Lyman Author Of A War of Empires: Japan, India, Burma & Britain: 1941-45

From my list on the war in Burma, 1941-45.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've spent the last 30-years studying, reading about, writing, and teaching the story of the war between the Allies and the Japanese in the Far East during WWII. It includes of course the story of the fighting between the main protagonists, but there’s much more that has been neglected by writers and historians, certainly in the West. It includes the story of Burma and its various people; the role of India and its people as it moved rapidly towards independence and the role of China throughout. Every time I look at an aspect of the war, or read another memoir or open a dusty file in the archives, I come across more exciting material.

Robert's book list on the war in Burma, 1941-45

Robert Lyman Why did Robert love this book?

This was the book that got me hooked on the Burma Campaign. Bill Slim was the man who engineered and executed the great Allied victory in Burma in 1945. He was an extraordinary man, a great military commander, and an excellent writer. This book, his retelling of the campaign – the longest British campaign of the Second World War – has been described as the best general’s book of the war. I agree. It's beautifully written and is a moving telling of the transition from British defeat in 1942 to profound victory in 1945.

Slim was a very humble man. This book doesn’t blow his own trumpet, but that of the vast army of many nations that made victory over the Japanese possible.

By Field-Marshal Slim,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Defeat Into Victory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Field Marshal Viscount Slim (1891-1970) led shattered British forces from Burma to India in one of the lesser-known but more nightmarish retreats of World War II. He then restored his army's fighting capabilities and morale with virtually no support from home and counterattacked. His army's slaughter of Japanese troops ultimately liberated India and Burma. The first edition of Defeat Into Victory , published in 1956, was an immediate sensation selling 20,000 copies within a few days. This is an updated version with a new introduction by David W. Hogan Jr.


Book cover of The Lost Man of Bombay

Nev March Author Of Murder in Old Bombay

From my list on India blending history with gripping mysteries.

Why am I passionate about this?

I lived the first 24 years of my life in Mumbai and traveled to many parts of India. I’ve had close friends of every community and religion and been fascinated by the incredible diversity. By studying historical crimes and how they were reported and investigated, I learned a great deal about the norms of Indian culture. Reading (and writing) historical mysteries allowed me to dive into past eras and immerse myself in the tumultuous events that have shaped our world today. While I’m obsessed with the turn of the 20th century, mysteries in later years also delight me. Enjoy this selection of mysteries set in India that reveal the inner workings of its diverse culture.

Nev's book list on India blending history with gripping mysteries

Nev March Why did Nev love this book?

Oh, how I enjoyed the dry wit embedded into each page! This complex mystery is filled with engaging characters. Author Vaseem Khan lavishes even the most minor characters with detailed and hilarious descriptions. The mystery of three separate murders converging is wrapped up with a cipher puzzle embedded in the mythology of Indian culture and iconography. The crimes with two different modus operandi makes things even more confusing.

Sourcing from the internment of foreign nationals in India during World War II, this twisty tale takes us through a number of locations and little-known events of India's history. I enjoyed protagonist Persis Wadia, as a Parsi woman myself, however, seeing her run headlong into dangerous situations does not do her credit. The deepening personal relationship with Archie is delightful but perhaps a deeper understanding of the moral and personal quandaries will be coming in future books. This does not detract from…

By Vaseem Khan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lost Man of Bombay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the body of a white man is found frozen in the Himalayan foothills near Dehra Dun, he is christened the Ice Man by the national media. Who is he? How long has he been there? Why was he killed?

As Inspector Persis Wadia and Metropolitan Police criminalist Archie Blackfinch investigate the case in Bombay, they uncover a trail left behind by the enigmatic Ice Man - a trail leading directly into the dark heart of conspiracy.

Meanwhile, two new murders grip the city. Is there a serial killer on the loose, targeting Europeans?

Rich in atmosphere, the thrilling third chapter…


Book cover of The Soldier's Girl

Lisbeth Eng Author Of In the Arms of the Enemy

From my list on World War II with unexpected love stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve long been enthralled by tales, real and fictional, that transcend the obvious and clichéd. My interest in World War II was piqued years ago while studying in Italy, when our professor regaled us with accounts of the Italian Resistance. Depictions of the “enemy” in fiction are often brutalized, and he is portrayed as less than human, compared with those on the righteous side of the battle. As a romance writer, crafting characters as living, breathing human beings, amidst the abyss of war, became my passion. Conflict is essential to a captivating plot, and what could be more intriguing than pitting heroine against hero in mortal struggle.

Lisbeth's book list on World War II with unexpected love stories

Lisbeth Eng Why did Lisbeth love this book?

Multi-layered portrayals, and an absorbing, beautifully penned story shine through Sharon Maas’s The Soldier’s Girl, a novel at once heartbreaking and inspiring.

The protagonist, Sibyl Lake, works as a spy for the French Resistance in the Nazi-annexed region of Alsace. Two men vie for her affection: Jacques, her childhood sweetheart, now a Resistance fighter, and Wolfgang, a German officer and the target of her espionage mission.

Sibyl’s courage, identity, and very soul are forced to the brink as she fights for her beloved land, clutched in Germany’s oppressive control. Maas’s unforgettable characters reveal their humanity – through love and loss – and will abide in the reader’s heart long after the final page.

By Sharon Maas,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Soldier's Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

France 1944 and the streets are filled with swastikas. The story of a brave English girl behind enemy lines, a German soldier, and a terrible sacrifice…

When young English nurse Sibyl Lake is recruited as a spy to support the French resistance, she doesn’t realise the ultimate price she will end up paying. She arrives in Colmar, a French town surrounded by vineyards and swarming with German soldiers, but her fear is dampened by the joy of being reunited with her childhood sweetheart Jacques.

Sibyl’s arrival has not gone unnoticed by Commander Wolfgang von Haagan and she realises that letting…


Book cover of The Jewel in the Crown

Annie Murray Author Of Letter from a Tea Garden

From my list on India under the Raj that are not about princesses.

Why am I passionate about this?

Abi Oliver is a pen name as my real name is Annie Murray—I write under both names. My first book, A New Map of Love, set in the 1960s, featured an older woman who had been born in India. She developed into such a character—a bit of an old trout to be truthful—that I wanted to tell her story. It also tapped into my family’s many connections with India and the fact that I have travelled a lot there. I finally got to travel, with my oldest daughter, and stay in one of the tea gardens in Assam—a wonderful experience.

Annie's book list on India under the Raj that are not about princesses

Annie Murray Why did Annie love this book?

This first volume—with the other threeis, I think, the best book ever written about the British in India and their leaving of it. The whole story is rooted in a rape that happens to a young Englishwoman, whose lover is accused of the crime. I first read this when it came out in 1980, before the amazingly good TV series. There are so many unforgettable characters in itthe women, trying to survive with husbands and fathers away in the army, the missionaries and nuns, as well as the men. Scott does not in any way idealize the Britishrather the oppositeand it is a feast of detail of the time and moving human stories. I have re-read it and will no doubt do so again. 

By Paul Scott,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Jewel in the Crown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This first volume opens in 1942 as the British fear both Japanese invasion and Indian demands for self-rule. Daphne Manners, daughter of the province governor, is running at night through the Mayapore gardens, away from her Indian lover, who will soon be arrested for her alleged rape.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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