Two Coins: A Biographical Novel
Wagner-Wright Enterprises, 2019
It’s 1883, and newspapers are flying off the shelves in Calcutta, Edinburgh and London. Mary Pigot, lady superintendent of the Scottish Female Mission in Calcutta, has been charged by The Reverend William Hastie with mismanagement and immorality, and she’s fighting back!
After ten years of hard work growing the mission, raising funds and educating women, Mary’s career is now in ruins. With nothing to lose, she takes her case to the Calcutta High Court and sues Hastie for malicious libel. A woman publicly suing a man! It’s just the type of scandal that sells lots of newspapers.
Based on actual events, Two Coins takes readers into Justice William Norris’ steamy courtroom in the middle of monsoon season. The scandal engulfs the entire missionary community, destroying almost everyone involved. Will Mary prevail?
What Reviewers Say
In the late Victorian era, there were few chances to be a woman in any position of power. Perhaps the “Angel in the House” was not as strong an idea as it had been a few decades before, but it was nevertheless a lingering ideal. Ironically, it was harder to have any power outside the house when one was a woman with any wealth. Lower-class women were often forced to work outside the house in order to make ends meet, though whether they held power is a matter up for debate.
Then, of course, whenever a woman did hold power, there was always a chance that a man would try to wrest it from her. That is exactly what happened to Mary Pigot, Lady Superintendent of a mission in India.
Based on historical events, Two Coins relates the conflict between Mary Pigot and Reverend William Hastie, the new Principal of the Scottish College in Calcutta. From the first, the two clash. Rev. Hastie is a picture of the stiff, proper Victorian man, while Miss Pigot is rather more lax in her approach to practically everything. Even the way she sits on a sofa is an affront to his sensibilities, and the pride each of them shares means neither can back down when a battle of wills inevitably arises.
About the Author
Sandra Wagner-Wright saw a reference to the Pigot v. Hastie trial and was immediately intrigued. Sandra’s research into the case led her to the British Library, Mission Archives in Edinburgh, and a site visit in Calcutta where she visited the High Court where Mary Pigot’s trial took place. Sandra taught women’s history for over 20 years. Based on a true story, Two Coins is Sandra’s second work of historical fiction.
Sandra Wagner-Wright holds the doctoral degree in history and taught women’s and global history at the University of Hawai`i. When she’s not researching or writing, Sandra enjoys travel, including trips to India, China, and St. Petersburg, Russia. Sandra particularly likes writing about strong women who make a difference. She lives in Hilo, Hawai`i with her family and writes a weekly blog relating to history, travel, and the idiosyncrasies of life. Check out Sandra’s webpage at www.sandrawagnerwright.com