”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.”
Some books you don’t read….you experience.
In 2000 I spent weeks traveling through India. It was the end of my first year of college and it was the biggest step I had yet taken in life as an adult, the farthest I had been from home and both the most terrifying and most wonderful journey imaginable. For me India was beauty with a hint of danger and uncertainty at all times much like in this beautiful novel.
At one point we stayed at an old ancestral home in Rajasthan that was an Inn run by the original family. It was large and rambling, made mostly from stone with a wall that encompassed the entire area and a large stone gate that let cars in and out from the busy city street. Inside was an oasis of sorts from the busy streets of India…there was greenery and birds. The family had just had a litter of puppies from one of their dogs so some mornings would be spent on the lawn playing in a mass of little dogs with the colorfully dressed children.
Good writing can take you back to a moment. Great writing can transport you. The Girl in the Garden took me back to my time in that home with it’s descriptive style almost as though I were looking in an album of pictures. Kamala Nair has a rare talent only a few writers can claim, she can write things in a manner that makes them real to the reader. When she describes a scene…it is enchanting, detailed and just enough information. Her writing is full of visual moments that keep readers satisfied and reflective. She uses the most original metaphors I’ve seen that somehow seem to capture exactly what something is like: ”the wisps of hair that gathered around her forehead quivering in the wind like insect legs.”
From the moment I picked up The Girl in the Garden I could not put it down. The dark fairy tale, family drama and sights and sounds of India enthralled me. Her story is intricately layered and yet simple. It’s modern and yet old world. It’s simply stunning.
Kamala Nair will now no doubt be on my top list of authors to watch and read. You can reader other review on this book’s blog tour here.
“ A story is like a dance. It takes at least two people to make it come to life, the one who does the telling and the one who does the listening.”
In the exotic city of Marrakesh an assortment of individuals gather to hear the words of a master storyteller as they spin into a tale of epic proportions. It is a story of love, yearning, loss and ultimately a mystery. Hassan usually delights his listeners with tales of the imagination. However on this night he chooses one of reality that is quickly becoming that of myth. It is the unraveling of the fate of two foreigners who enchanted by the art, music and essence of the city were lured into its very center on one unforgettable night.
The Jemaa is not only the location of the group constructing the re-telling of that crimson night but also the setting of the story itself. The Jemaa is the center of all. People of every background visit the square to experience the sights, sounds and sensations that are Marrakesh. Two such individuals once came and their story haunts the people to this day. Hassan does not create fiction on this night instead choosing to try and piece together the truth about the disappearance in order to absolve his brother Mustafa of the crime. As he tells his tale readers find themselves adrift among his childhood, distinct seemingly insignificant memories and even the prediction of what might lie in the future.
The foreign woman Lucia is one of myth. Her grace and beauty lured the men of Marrakesh to remember her even in their dreams; she haunts the Jemaa to this day with her mystery. The slender man a silent companion in some recollections, only a vague memory to most. What happened on this night of nights? Many recall their meetings, conversations or short glimpses of the pair but no two tales are the same. How is one to know which is truth and which is merely the musings of an overactive imagination? How much can one truly rely on a memory even if it is one of their very own?
The very definition of reality, truth and memory all combine in this mystical reconstruction of one event. The bringing together of multiple viewpoints along with the artful narration of Hassan, make readers feel as though they are along on a quest for truth in a sea of conjecture. One can hear the drums, smell the spices and taste the fragrant tea as they travel to another world with someone who writes as if from another time.
If a story is a dance: The Storyteller of Marrakesh is one of poetic elegance that takes the reader on a journey where the ending is not of primary significance because the joy lies within the journey itself.
This book will be available on January 31, 2011.