“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.