Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review: The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

Here is a summary of the book from the Hachette website:

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. 

My Review:
If you have read any of my reviews in the past you must know by now that I absolutely love books that give me a taste of another culture...throw a young gal into the mix who is in the midst of life changes and I am hooked!  We learn about Rakhee's life changing summer in India as she reflects upon that time before making a very important decision that will impact the rest of her life.

As a young girl Rakhee is an only child living with her parents in Plainfield, Minnesota.  Both of her parents moved to the U.S. from India at a very young age and seemed to have established a comfortable life for their young family.  Amma (Rakhee's mother) immerses herself in creating the most beautiful garden in the area, while her father, Aba, spends most of his time at the scientific lab where he is employed.  Amma has had her problems with depression in the past, but she seems to be falling deeper into that realm once again when envelopes start arriving in the mail that are addressed from India.  After Amma receives a few of these envelopes she decides that she will take Rakhee to her family home in India for the summer.

It is a new world and culture that Rakhee discovers in India and she embraces the family that she has never met before.  Her mother's sisters and brother all live under one roof in a very large estate.  She learns that her family is both respected and apparently well-off since her grandfather started a hospital in the area that specialized in ayurvedic treatments.  Although her grandfather is no longer alive, family members have continued his work in the hospital.

I really believe that we as women take so much for granted in this wonderful country that we live in.  Rakhee is shown the some of these differences in the everyday life that is led in India.   From women not having choices in arranged marriages to not being able to step into the holy temples, things are very different, and Rakhee finds herself yearning for her father and her life back in Minnesota.

Rakhee does embrace her new cousins though, as they spend time together every day, they come to be the sisters that she never had.  When her cousins must study in the afternoons Rakhee has spare time on her hands and decides to venture out into the forbidden woods to see what is so scary.  What she finds isn't scary at all, but one of the most beautiful places she has ever seen.  Little does she know that this beautiful place will change her life forever.

I don't want to give away any more of this book but I can tell you that I really enjoyed it.  With themes of family secrets, loyalty, and Indian culture, this is a great book to read for either personal leisure or as a book club selection.  I don't hesitate in recommending this book.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This e-book was provided to me from the publisher through the Net Galley program.

About Author

Kamala Nair was born in London and grew up in the United States. A graduate of Wellesley College, she studied literature at Oxford University and received an M.Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin in 2005. She currently lives in New York City, where she has worked at ELLE DECOR.

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Ti said...

I had to turn this one down because I had too much on my plate, but it looks really good. So glad you enjoyed it.

Blodeuedd said...

Sounds good :) And I think I could enjoy this book too

Darlene said...

I'm going to be reading this one very soon so I'm glad to see you liked it. We are very lucky in our country.

Anonymous said...

I am so bad about reading books from other cultures and your review has reminded me that I need to read outside my comfort zone more often. This one looks good :)

Susan said...

I've never heard of this one, but it sounds really good. I'm going to have to search it out at the library. Thanks for the rec!

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