The Girl in the Garden - Kamala Nair
Read with a suppleness that lulls one into an ideal dream state that recalls the best moments of childhood's most moving storytelling.
The Girl in the Garden is one of those rare novels that once begun is impossible to turn away from, so be forewarned and prepared to read it in one sitting. Though this is only to feel the loneliness of missing a beloved friend, and to want to begin all over again. Unlike many big stories that try the reader's patience with unnecessary details, Nair's novel efficiently contains a multi-generational family saga, loves, deaths, secrets, ruin, and rebirth, and so we feel the thrill (and terror) of the heroine's explorations in the new world of Southern India.
Myth and a pervasive sense of the magic of a ruined ancestral home, its gardens and its stories, combine as Rakhee discovers her own strength of character, makes lifelong friendships, and confronts her mother's devastating secret history, only to learn, in the end, that the real test of growing up isn't merely the ability to judge, but to understand, to forgive, and finally, painfully, to love the very parents who aren't perfect, but as human and flawed as oneself.
As with all great literature, The Girl in the Garden helps one to understand one's own choices, and the lives of others, through the choices of its characters. It will become a friend in the best sense of being both entertaining and edifying, for life.