The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair
Release date: 2011 / 305 pages
Synopsis (from the back cover): At once a powerful family saga and compelling personal odyssey, Kamala Nair’s debut novel tells the story of a conflicted young woman who, in an effort to seek clarity about her impending marriage, revisits in memory one fateful summer from her childhood.
First Sentence: By the time you read this I will be flying over the Atlantic on my way to India.
Review: On many levels, this novel feels like a fairy tale — from the lush, sumptuous setting, to the eleven-year-old narrator, to the secrets revealed by the end. The frame of the story involves a young woman, newly engaged, who decides she cannot begin a marriage with secrets. So, she writes her fiance a letter about one fateful summer — the summer she turned eleven — and the rest of the novel unfolds as if the past were occurring in the present. We join the narrator, eleven-year-old Rakhee, as she travels to India with her mother to meet her grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins and discovers a world of secrets that ultimately drives her away from her mother.
The writing is very fast-paced and the novel makes short work of an afternoon. Nair creates India viscerally and the setting was my favorite aspect of this novel, although the story and characters were compelling as well. Overall, I would recommend this as a great novel to take on vacation — easy to get into and then return to.
So, if you are interested, please leave me a comment and I will choose a winner by the weekend!
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