Victoria & Abdul (Movie Tie-In): The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant – by Shrabani Basu

9780525434412 - 693 KB

Category: Historical Figure Biographies & Memoirs | European World History | Domestic Politics

Paperback: 352 Pages | Vintage BooksKnopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, Aug 29, 2017 | ISBN 9780525434412. Price | $16.00.

Reviewer: Miriam Jacob


Sir Alexander Reid and Lady Michaela Reid gave Shrabani Basu complete access to the Reid Archives. Lady Michaela Reid , wife of the grandson of Sir James Reid (personal physician to Queen Victoria), discovered Sir James’ papers in the 1960s in Ellon Castle in Aberdeenshire. Her book, Ask Sir James, was critically acclaimed and reprinted by Eland Books


Among royal biographies, “Victoria and Abdul” stands out in distinction, different from all others, due to its revelations of the relationship between Queen Victoria and her Indian secretary, Munshi Abdul Karim. The true historical facts must be revealed to all those who care. Queen Victoria defined an entire era and etched her name into history by her dynamic personality.

Shrabani Basu creates a very humane portrait of the iconic monarch. The Queen’s irresistible sincerity, unaffected simplicity and transparent truthfulness shone in the spotlight of conscientious duty. Reigning from 1837 to 1901, she became the second longest reigning monarch in Britain, for over sixty-three years.

At the height of the British empire, a young Muslim influenced its sovereign, reverberating in shockwaves across the royal court. For Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, Abdul Karim, a 24-year-old assistant clerk from India, arrived in England to be an attendant. The Queen, impressed with the tall, dignified young man, made him her Indian secretary, and most trusted confidant. Their discussions covered philosophical, political and practical issues.

The Queen titled Karim as ‘Munshi’ or teacher. In 1897, facing a near revolt in the Royal Household against Abdul Karim, the unprejudiced Queen Victoria backed Karim unconditionally, oblivious to all accusations against him. 

“Victoria & Abdul” is a stunning piece of historical work, a well researched chronicle of the English court. Unrecorded in the annals of history, the startling revelations of this great relationship story of all time, survived destruction, languishing in obscurity for a hundred years, until Shrabani Basu unraveled its complicated tangles.

This book is highly recommended for public edification about the last thirteen years of the life of Queen Victoria, who shaped the ‘Victorian Age’ for posterity, making it the most splendid era in the history of Britain.

Miriam Jacob

A Major Motion Picture, by BBC Films, Working Title Films & Universal Pictures International, releasing September 22, 2017, by Focus Features.


Directed by Stephen Frears | Screenplay by Lee Hall | Based on “Victoria & Abdul” by Shrabani Basu | Production company: BBC Films; Working Title Films | Distributed by Focus Features

Release date | September 15, 2017 (United Kingdom) | September 22, 2017 (United States) | Running time | 106 minutes | Country: United Kingdom & United States

Victoria & Abdul is an upcoming British-American biographical drama film directed by Stephen Frears, written by Lee Hall, based on the book by Shrabani Basu, and on the real-life relationship between Queen Victoria and her Indian servant Abdul Karim. The film is scheduled to be screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.

The film is co-produced by Working Title Films and BBC Films, and co-financed by BBC and Focus Features. Focus handles the domestic distribution rights while Universal Pictures International handles all the other countries. Principal photography on the film began on September 15, 2016, at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom.




Shrabani Basu was born in Kolkata and grew up in Dhaka, Kathmandu and Delhi. She moved to London in 1987 and is a correspondent for the Kolkata-based newspapers Ananda Bazar Patrika and The Telegraph. She is also the author of Curry: The Story of the Nation’s Favourite Dish and the critically acclaimed biography Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan. She lives in London.



WAITING FOR WONDER – Learning to Live on God’s Timeline – by Marlo Schalesky – Review, Interview and Press Release


WAITING FOR WONDER – Learning to Live on God’s Timeline

by Marlo Schalesky

Publisher: Abingdon Press,

15 Nov 2016.

Paperback: 272 pages.

ISBN: 9781501820106. Price: $16.99

Ebook: 224 pages.

ISBN: 9781501820113. Price: $16.99


Marlo Schalesky 2016 - Copy

Marlo Schalesky is an award-winning author of 10 books, fiction and non-fiction, including “Wrestling with Wonder: A Transformational Journey through the Life of Mary” (Zondervan) and “Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God’s Timetable” (Abingdon Press). Over 1,000 of Marlo’s articles are published in Christian magazines, including Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman and In Touch. A graduate of Stanford University, she earned her Masters in Theology, with an emphasis in Biblical Studies, from Fuller Theological Seminary. Marlo is the founder and president of Wonder Wood Ranch, a California charitable organization bringing hope to a hurting community through horses.


Sarah, wife of the Biblical patriarch, Abraham, waited for wonder in her wilderness. Weary and worn-out with endless waiting, she had given up all hope of ever seeing God’s promises fulfilled in her life. With rich insights and refreshing hope, this book transforms Sarah’s deep-rooted weariness into stunning, eye-opening wonder to see God’s sacred plans and purposes unfold in her personal wilderness of waiting. Sarah’s decades-long, wearisome wait for God’s promises to happen in her life is heartrending and utterly riveting. New hope springs up in her heart to see God at work, hemming her in with wonder, as she waited for God’s wonder-working power to unfold, when life’s trials hit home mercilessly, threatening to engulf and submerge her in its devastating deluge. Waiting for Wonder is all about hope in the midst of despair as we read Sarah’s passionate story of agonizing heartache, bitter struggle and seemingly endless waiting upon God.

God’s timing is not our own. We believe God when His promise is new but as the long, seemingly endless years pass by and nothing really changes, desperation strikes our hearts. Yet, as we are Waiting for Wonder, God calls us to experience the Wonder of Waiting. We miss the wonder of God’s plan when we struggle to wait. Abraham’s wife, Sarah knew what it meant to wait. God gives us strength to hope against hope and pray for the desires of our heart to be fulfilled. Waiting for Wonder takes us into the heart of God to ask questions and discover God’s answers, to appreciate God’s plan for our lives and refresh our spirits, to rekindle our hope and renew our trust in God’s promises, and to learn to wait for God’s time.

Rich spiritual insights in this life-transforming book will fill you with wide eye-opening wonder as you clearly see God’s divine purposes in your wilderness of waiting. Are you Waiting for Wonder? As you wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled in your life, fresh new hope will spring up in your life, when God hems you in with wonder on every side. This inspiring book touches our hearts as we are Waiting for Wonder from God. It is all about hope, faith, love and trust. The Bible’s real life story of Sarah’s bitter heartache, struggle and forever waiting on God turns into a precious lesson for us to trust Him with our lives. If God wants us to wait as Sarah did, we must learn the lessons she did. This engaging story inspires us to come closer to God, dig deeper into faith and trust even more deeply in the God who will never let us down. In today’s instant world, waiting is considered to be a waste of time. But in God’s world, waiting is a priceless treasure to be discovered.

In ‘Waiting for Wonder’, Marlo Schalesky’s deeply soulful and insightful wisdom is revealed as she passionately probes the unexplored landscape of Sarah’s wilderness journey, in the hollow canyons of the mountains and deep valleys of waiting, exposing the everpresent barrenness teetering at the precipice of doubt and despair. Sarah’s life is a silent testimony to how she fervently hoped against hope, trusting and believing in the endless years of waiting, that God would find a way out to illuminate the pure wonder of waiting, until He fulfilled His glorious promise to her.

Marlo Schalesky’s hard-won courage, wrested from the heart of despair, lights our hearts with love, inspires us with hope and illuminates our eyes to the pure wonder of waiting. Waiting for Wonder helps us to understand God, whose ways are not our ways, and trust Him still. Marlo sees very human people behind Bible characters, studying their lives for soul-transforming truth, saying it gracefully in all humility. Waiting for Wonder reveals Marlo’s devotion to the truth of God’s Word as she discovers wonder-filled moments of God’s grace. The spiritual truths in this book open our eyes in breathless wonder to see God in our waiting.

At the heart of Marlo Schalesky’s “Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God’s Timeline”, lies an important spiritual truth. In our waiting, God calls us to more. Waiting is hard and learning to wait well, even more so. At first, we all wait well, with new-found faith and hope, expecting God to meet us at our point of need, to answer our persistent questions and bring our fledgling dreams to life. But what happens in God’s timeline, when troublesome days turn into wearisome weeks, tiresome months, and seemingly endless years? Do we still wait well or flag in zeal and become discouraged? Waiting on God is where we all want to be. Though we believe God when a promise is new, it gets so much harder as the long years pass by with no significant changes. That’s when desperation strikes and plans backfire, causing tremendous pain and distress. In the midst of all this waiting, God calls us to more.

Studying the life of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who learnt to wait the hard way, we glimpse the character of God, as He works in the lives of Sarah and Abraham in their long wait for the child of God’s promise. Like them, as we wait for wonder, we wrestle with wonder. As Marlo Schalesky wisely points out, in our lives, God loves to redeem the deepest sorrow, the worst guilt, the most agonizing pain, transforming them into platforms for His glory to be revealed. When we are so deeply hurt that we feel the pain will never pass, so bitterly frustrated to see the fragments of our carefully planned lives crumble into dust, can we trust God to bring overwhelming good out of the devastation of evil. This awesome and inspiring biography of Sarah will encourage and refresh your soul as you wait for the God of all hope to reveal His glory in your life.

In ‘Waiting for Wonder’, Marlo gently dislodge deeply-wedged rocks of doubt and despair to transform our understanding of Sarah’s eventful life into the fullness of God’s glory. Gifted with the unique God-given ability to bring Biblical characters to life, portraying them as very humane people, Marlo sifts through their lives to glean rich gems of truth, revealing her selfless devotion to God’s Word, and her ability to discover life’s transforming wonder.

Waiting for Wonder ponders Biblical truths to reveal how God infuses wonder into waiting. Sarah’s life was filled with decades of promises still not come true, of desperate prayers of long, agonizing months turned into endless years. Sarah’s heart ached with the hope of a whole world blessed as she wrestled with the wonder of waiting. Who is this God of waiting who makes impossible promises, then asks Sarah and Abraham to wait, without even a glimmer of hope, and only the myriad stars to see in the silent sky? Who is this God of long intervals, painful delays, and yet-unanswered prayers?

To grasp the wonder of the God of the waiting room, we must find Him in the wilderness of waiting, where He seems most absent. Is anything too difficult for the Lord? He brings laughter when it seems too late. He is the God of wonder-while-you-wait. Sarah’s life is a soul-seeking journey of disappointment, doubt, and detours to discover God in the wilderness of life, believing in His commitment to bless all the families of the earth through her. Like Sarah, God calls us to wait for wonder, to laugh in the face of the impossible, to claim a blessing for the whole world, as we patiently wait for His time. Discover this God of waiting, of a whole world blessed through Sarah’s amazing life story, in “Waiting for Wonder” by Marlo Schalesky.

Miriam Jacob

Christian Book Distributors

Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God’s Timeline



Marlo Schalesky – Waiting for Wonder – press kit

Marlo Schalesky – Waiting for Wonder – interview





Wrestling With Wonder – A Transformational Journey Through the Life of Mary – by Marlo Schalesky


Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 7, 2014)
ISBN-13: 978-0310337409. Price: $9.25

Marlo Schalesky 2016 - Copy


Marlo Schalesky is an award-winning author of 10 books, fiction and non-fiction, including “Wrestling with Wonder: A Transformational Journey through the Life of Mary” (Zondervan) and “Waiting for Wonder: Learning to Live on God’s Timetable” (Abingdon Press). Over 1,000 of Marlo’s articles are published in Christian magazines, including Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman and In Touch. A graduate of Stanford University, she earned her Masters in Theology, with an emphasis in Biblical Studies, from Fuller Theological Seminary. Marlo is the founder and president of Wonder Wood Ranch, a California charitable organization bringing hope to a hurting community through horses.


Wrestling With Wonder – A Transformational Journey Through The Life Of Mary – by Marlo Schalesky takes us on a unique, contemplative and eye-opening journey through the life of Mary, a blessed young woman chosen by God to rear the only beloved Son of God in His redemptive plan for mankind. Her humble obedience to God reveals her selfless commitment, in her journey from the manger of the Son of God to the cross of Calvary, on which He paid the supreme sacrifice by dying to save humanity. In order to know the why’s of Mary’s difficulties, we must know the Who, who took her and her Divine Son on that journey from the cradle to the grave. “I AM WHO I AM.” This is the striking truth at the heart of our faith. When we wrestle with all the why’s, we know who He is. He is perfect in all of His ways. As we wait for wonder, we wrestle with wonder. We struggle with doubts and grapple with distress. Through all our trials and difficulties, we find out who He is. His ways are good, acceptable and perfect. We cannot understand all the baffling why’s but God is our ever-present hope and anchor. Who is this God who calls us to complete surrender and fulfills every glorious promise and yet shatters every expectation of ours? Let us follow Mary on an illuminating journey of discovery to find our own journey in hers.


AUTHORS, MariLee Parrish

Encouraging Thoughts for Women: Blessings – by MariLee Parrish


Pages: 192, Imprint: Barbour Books, Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 9781683222132. Price: $4.99

“Encouraging Thoughts for Women: Blessings” is an anointed devotional that gives Spirit-filled encouragement, inspiration and divine blessings to uplift your spiritual life. It is full of poignant, heartfelt readings to connect your soul to God, supplemented by inspiring prayers, memorable quotations that you will not easily forget, and precious Bible promises to uplift and inspire you. Here is the most perfect comfort and blessed assurance for you. This book is a great personal pick-me-up, a divine tonic to give you a heavenly boost. Try it and see. Your life will never be the same again. One look and your eyes will be opened to God’s wisdom and knowledge. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Revel in Encouraging Thoughts for Women. Bask in the glory of God’s Blessings and let it reflect in your life.

Miriam Jacob


JOURNEY INTO GRACE by Darlene Sala, Bonnie Sala, Luisa Reyes-Ampil


Pages: 321, Imprint: Barbour Books, Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc., Publication Date: 1 September 2017. ISBN 9781683222859. Price: $12.99

As we journey into grace through the unique challenges of life, allowing God to work His miracles in us, through the joyful moments and the painful trials, our journey through life leads us to the divine richness of His glorious Grace, in a life-transforming, personally intimate relationship with Him. This spiritual truth strikes at the heart’s core of the inspiring devotional, Journey into Grace. The 150 readings in the book explain various themes like the amazing power of forgiveness, learning to love, the discipline of prayer, and the complicacy of life’s relationships. It offers us precious quiet moments with God as we place our life challenges at His feet, confident of His guidance and help when we need it the most.

Miriam Jacob


Serenity Prayers for a Woman’s Soul – by Emily Biggers


Pages: 208, Imprint: Barbour Books, Publisher: Barbour Publishing Inc.
ISBN 9781683221456. Price: $14.99

Serenity Prayers for a Woman’s Soul by Emily Biggers will inspires you to achieve serenity in every aspect of your daily lives through a personal, intimate relationship with God. It will gently guide you into an honest conversation with your heavenly Father. The prayer starters and scripture selections will encourage you to reflect on God’s Word in quietness and confidence. You will enter into His presence in peace. Discover comfort, healing, and calm in Serenity Prayers for a Woman’s Soul, a beautiful collection of inspiring, refreshing prayers for women. This book will truly bless the hearts of all women who seek a closer walk with God, with Scripture to help us through trying times. We must give God His rightful place in our lives. His place should be first. The devotionals speak to our hearts in every area of our lives. This comforting, inspiring gem of a book will impact you most profoundly. It will transform you and your situation. It is like manna from heaven to give you spiritual food. This little devotional book encourages women to find peace and serenity in identity and relationships. This awesome collection of prayers for every need and for all occasions reminds us afresh that God is in always in perfect control of our lives.

Miriam Jacob


UNSEEN – The Gift of Being Hidden in a World that Loves to be Noticed – by Sara Hagerty

UNSEEN - Sara Hagerty

UNSEEN – The Gift of Being Hidden in a World that Loves to be Noticed –

by Sara Hagerty

240 pages, Publisher: Zondervan,

Release Date: August 29, 2017.

ISBN-13: 978-0310339977

In her spiritually uplifting and deeply enlightening book, “Unseen”, Sara Hagerty eloquently writes about the extraordinary gift of being unseen in a very noticeable world. Sara’s heart longed to be seen and understood. Yet, sometimes she felt unwitnessed, unnoticed and unappreciated. Struggling through her own personal spiritual experiences, Sara painstakingly confronts a peculiar moral dilemma when she questions her faith as to whether God who loves her when she serves Him in full-time ministry work, still loves her when she is unseen and does not do anything for Him.

How can we find contentment when we are unseen and unknown, hidden away from the glaring eyes of the world? Sara patiently explains that God is the only One who truly knows us and understands the priceless value of the unseen in our lives. As this insightful truth seeps into our hearts and souls, we realize that being hidden away in God imbues us with true freedom, inspiring us to help others in joyous abandon. Only when we give ourselves wholeheartedly and unreservedly to God can we live out what God intended and who He created us to be. As Sara beautifully writes with the heart of a scribe, “Maybe my seemingly unproductive, looking-up-at-Him life produces awe among the angels.”

Through a passionate exploration of her own personal life and the Holy Scriptures, Sara gives a crystal clear clarion call to us to offer all our unseen moments to God, in all the secret places of our lives, where God meets us with a radical love, the kind of unhinged love that surrenders everything at His feet. Unseen and hidden away in all our secret places, God invites us to share His life with this arresting question: “When no one else applauds you, when it makes no sense, when you see no results—will you waste your love on Me?”

As Sara struggles to come to terms with her doubts and fears, Christ weeps unseen for her and for a lost world that neither recognizes His presence nor cares about Him. As we lift up our faces to Him, dazzled by the radiance emanating from that most beautiful of countenances, He reaches out to us, smiling that most wondrous of smiles. Sara Hagerty heard His tender whisper, gently calling her to Him, through all the pain and loneliness of being unseen in a very noticeable world.

Each time Sara’s desperate heart broke in despair with the agony of being unseen in a world she did not feel she belonged to, Christ sought her, reaching out to her lovingly and engulfed her in His warm embrace. Through pain and perplexity, Sara found intimacy with Jesus. When life stopped for her, God met her at her greatest point of need. His Word and His whisper took on new meaning to her in the darkness of despair. Sara found God in the most unlikely places.

In the hustle, bustle and shuffle of life, Sara’s writings invitingly beckon us to God, who sees us, as we find our way back to Him. When we feel unnoticed and invisible, our hearts restlessly seeking to live in the fullness of life with Jesus, we feel His tender gaze upon us, the only one worth vying for. Sara’s exquisite writing leads us to the heart of Christ. Her poignant vulnerability assures us that there is a divine purpose in everything we do. Absolutely nothing ever goes unnoticed by God who loves us and delights in us.

Sara gives us treasured glimpses into her precious friendship with God. She makes us want to spend time with Him; to find our ultimate sense of fulfillment in His approval, and be content in His presence alone. Through Sara’s words, we hear His voice and see Him work His miracle of grace in our hearts. Sara’s life points us to Him. ‘Unseen’ inspires our hearts with the sterling knowledge that the most fruitful and fulfilling service to God is well off the beaten path, right in the heart of his will. There is divine conviction and confirmation in this true-to-the-gospel book. Let it revive your faith in the most eternally beautiful way.

With profound wisdom and humble sincerity, Sara urges us to turn away from the noise of the world and delightfully waste time with God, pampering Him with our love. She give us a priceless gift in “Unseen”, inviting us to realize the very purpose of our existence, created and redeemed to become fully alive in God. With profound wisdom and humble sincerity, Sara urges us to turn away from the noise of the world and delightfully waste time with God, pampering Him with our love. “Unseen” give us a priceless gift, inviting us to realize the very purpose of our existence, created and redeemed to become fully alive in God. Unseen is just the compass we need to chart us into safe waters. Sara reveals the hidden beauty of abiding in the unseen. In a world that is programmed to be seen, we come alive in the unseen. As the heart journeys into hiddenness, we are ushered into new-found identity and intimacy with God.

In “Unseen”, Sara Hagerty reveals herself so vulnerably with a rare, winsome transparency. She teaches us to desire the praise of God and not the fleeting praise of man. As we are faithful to Jesus in all the hidden, secret places, Sara’s inspiring words give us God’s perspective and clarity of vision on the unseen worth of our daily lives. “Unseen” inspires us to be faithful, to see beauty around us and to rest in God’s sweet love each new day.

Reaching deep down into our hearts, Sara inspires us to ignore the clamoring world and surge into the sacred space of His sanctuary, to hear His voice alone, in quietness and confidence. We are safe and secure in the palm of His hand, hidden in His gaze. In this exquisite book, Sara skillfully combines the art of storytelling with the Gospel. Jesus wants us to live life with Him, not just for Him. When we enjoy the affection of Christ, we do not crave the applause of man.

Hidden away, unseen by the world, Sara gazed into the father-heart of God, who loves her more than life itself. Sara glimpsed His glory and felt His unconditional love for her flowing freely into her heart. Who was God when she was alone, unseen and had nothing to give Him? This ultimate, soul-searching question guided Sara to a quiet place where she met God and tasted His goodness. This book will set the world on fire for God. I recommend it to every person who wishes to know the unseen beauty of a life hidden in God.

Miriam Jacob