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The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair
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The Girl in the Garden

by Kamala Nair

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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
A family drama set in India tells the story of an expat mother and her daughter who go to India, ostensibly to visit family, leaving the father behind in Minnesota. The story is told by Rahkee, the eleven-year-old daughter, who discovers family secrets, at first puzzling, then sad, as she realizes what they will mean to her life. Nair captures the setting and culture in this story that would be appreciated by a YA audience. ( )
  VivienneR | Jun 15, 2018 |
The Girl in the Garden is a a vivid novel that keeps the reader turning the pages. This story has so many aspects to it that it is hard to sum up, but it is well worth the read. Nair is an excellent writers who combines beautiful imagery with mystery all in the unique setting of a remote Indian village.

To see my full review go here ( )
  dragonflyy419 | Feb 5, 2014 |
Now a newly engaged adult, Rakhee remains haunted by the events of her one summer in India. The novel tells the story of that summer in a long letter written to her fiancee, explaining why she must defer their engagement. Until she confronts her past, she cannot face her future. What happened that summer?

One of these days, I would really love to read a novel set in the Indian subcontinent or with first generation desi folk and not have it be almost entirely depressing. Sure, times are hard there, but there must be some books where no characters commit suicide by jumping into a well. I mean, there just have to be.

I did like this much better than Tiger Hills, but, be warned, its still very sad. Pretty much the only part that isn't completely depressing is the epilogue. Reading both of these novels, I get the idea of just how much family history can haunt people. The mistakes of the previous generation snowball into even worse mistakes by the next. Also, never try to marry your daughter off to an awkward, stuttering creeper, because it never ends well.

The Girl in the Garden confronts tough issues, like depression, arranged marriage, pregnancy and divorce. These issues are dealt with well for the most part, not hitting the reader over the head with an agenda. Through Rakhee, it is clear that issues of childhood take a long time to get over (so true), but that it is important to get closure before trying to be a real person, so that you can close the cycle.

The plot twists were pretty much all things I saw coming from many miles away. There really was no other way things were going to go. There is one twist that I swear was not revealed but must be the case. I rather wish I could talk with someone else who read the book so that they could tell me if I'm crazy or not; all I can say is that it involves Prem.

Overall, this wasn't a book I particularly enjoyed, but, for those who enjoy tragic family stories, this is quite well done. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
Wow. Whoa. To start with. A beautifully written book, poetic style that's easy and flowing and lush. And the story...intriguing from the start and with some useful detours and twists that has me reeling after finishing this book last night. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. ( )
  ming.l | Mar 31, 2013 |
Usually when I’m reading a book for review I think about things to say as I read. Halfway through this book I didn’t know what I was going to say and now that I’m finished I still don’t think I can do it justice.

We are introduced to Rakhee as she is preparing to leave her sleeping fiance in the middle of the night. She knows she can’t marry him until she goes back to India and deals with her past. She leaves him a long letter explaining, and that explanation is the rest of the story in the book.

I thought this book was magical. The story unfolded at the perfect pace; not once was I tempted to skim or skip ahead. I did not want to miss a single word. As I was reading, I felt like I was sitting at the knee of some wise grandmother listening to her stories. Ms. Nair’s words carried me slowly and calmly through the story, introducing characters smoothly. These characters were developed perfectly. Oh, they had their faults, but were so well written that you couldn’t help but like them.

I have always been a fan of stories set in India and Ms. Nair did a fabulous job describing her setting. Just as with her characters, she took a dry and not always pleasant setting and made is endearing and almost homey.

From reading other reviews, I just knew I would like this book. I heard about it, requested it from the library, and finished it in just five days. It was a page-turner for sure, and I would not hesitate to read her next book. ( )
  kathydassaro | Jan 24, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446572683, Hardcover)

The redemptive journey of a young woman unsure of her engagement, who revisits in memory the events of one scorching childhood summer when her beautiful yet troubled mother spirits her away from her home to an Indian village untouched by time, where she discovers in the jungle behind her ancestral house a spellbinding garden that harbors a terrifying secret.

Amazon.com Exclusive Essay from Kamala Nair
Kamala Nair

The idea for The Girl in the Garden grew out of a single image I saw in a dream. It happened one night during a trip to Kerala, India, in the winter of 2004.

We were staying in the rambling farmhouse where my father grew up, a place I had often visited as a child. Growing up, The Secret Garden was one of my favorite novels, and whenever I came here, I felt like Mary at Misselthwaite Manor, stepping into a culturally confusing world full of strange new discoveries. The verdant jungles, wild and untended, were the perfect place to uncover buried secrets.

One evening after sunset, a group of my relatives headed to the village temple. The temple idols were bathed in the glow of flickering torches, while bells rang and sticks of incense burned. One of my cousins grabbed my hand, pulling me away from the swarm of worshippers and guiding me toward the remnants of a stone wall, with a vast green field just beyond, and an ancient-looking well at its center.

"People say that well is haunted by a yekshi," whispered my cousin with a smirk, "A ghost." She was in her late teens, too old to believe in such things, as was I, and while I knew that she was pointing it out more as a curiosity than as something to be feared, the moment was nonetheless arresting.

I lay in bed that night, thinking about the field and the well, and as I drifted into sleep, a tree with branches covered in red flowers entered the picture. I dreamed of two little girls huddling under the tree and the petals of the flowers showering down around them. When I awoke, I could not let go of that image, so I began to think about who those little girls were and why they were huddled under the tree.

The stirrings of a story growing in my mind caused me to see India in a new way. The village, the paddy fields, the Ayurvedic hospital that my grandfather, had founded--they all became characters, as well as the house.

My grandmother had recently passed away, and this was the first time we had returned without her. Her absence was palpable. The house seemed to have degenerated.

I never had the chance to meet my grandfather, who died when I was ten days old, but from stories I knew that he was a hero to his children and a man with enormous compassion for his patients. My grandmother had been the purest, most loving woman I had ever met. In their passing, something incalculably precious was lost--a sense of family history that having grown up thousands of miles away, I only rarely felt when I had wandered as a child through those old rooms. The house had fallen, not, like Ashoka, as a result of poisonous secrets, but from the inevitable passage of time.

Thus began Rakhee’s journey.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:04:56 -0400)

When Rakhee Singh is ten years old, her mother takes her from their Minnesota home to visit relatives in India. There she discovers a family secret that will haunt her. Only as a woman on the verge of marriage does Rakhee find the strength to confront the events of that summer and face the price of secrets.… (more)

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