In 1939, 24-year-old Joan Falkiner travelled from South Yarra, a suburb of Melbourne in Australia, to princely India to marry the ‘nawab’ of Palanpur, a Muslim ruler of a small state in Gujarat. Her escapade sent shockwaves through Melbourne society and the British administration both in
Delhi and back home in England. In a new biography published by Yoda Press, her cousin Suzanne Falkiner traces a story punctuated by diamond rings, finishing schools and 13-gun salutes.
Joan in India: Yoda Press, 328 pages, Rs 495
What makes this paperback a collectible, though, is its beautifully designed cover by Oroon Das, a Delhi-based theatre actor and graphic designer. Digitally printed on gold metallic paper is a rare photograph of the “Begum of Palanpur” circa 1940 (Hamilton Studios Ltd, Shimla), in which Joan is wearing a ruby necklace and earrings, a gift from the ‘nawab’. This one time, go ahead, judge a book by its cover.
The book is available at Yodakin (Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi) and distributed by Cambridge University Press offices across India.