Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Girl In The Garden

While her lover sleeps, a young woman, Rakhee Singh, uncertain about her feelings regarding her impending marriage, slips off her engagement ring, leaves it on the bedside table and sets off from the NY-Metro area to India on a journey to reclaim her past and hopefully, rediscover herself.

This powerful first chapter that opens The Girl In The Garden, a debut novel by the very talented Kamala Nair, encourages the reader to take up the narrator's cause and travel with her as she goes back in time. Throughout the narrative, she recalls the summer of her tenth year, when her emotionally troubled mother mysteriously whisks Rakhee away from her father and their home in Plainfield, Minnesota and takes her back to her ancestral village in India. Once there, Rakhee becomes acquainted with an unfamiliar culture and relatives she has never known - and she also discovers a walled-in garden hidden in a thicket behind the family home. She and her young cousins have been told the garden is off-limits as a Rakshasi, a witch, is said to inhabit the empty space hidden in the forest. This restriction is exactly what piques Rakhee's interest until she decides to see for herself what resides therein.

Family secrets are at the heart of this quietly told, incredibly gripping novel narrated from Rakhee's point-of-view in one long flashback sequence that depicts a series of fully drawn characters embroiled in domestic complications. The hidden garden becomes a compelling metaphor for what happens when we compartmentalize the sorrows and challenges of our lives. The meaning of love and fidelity, and the consequences of hiding from the truth rather than facing it, are central issues that ultimately force Rakhee to circle back to the present and reconcile her own life.

The Girl In The Garden by Kamala Nair
Grand Central Publishing, Hardcover, 978-0446572682, 320pp.
Publication Date: June 15, 2011
To order this book via INDIEBOUND link HERE

Please note:  This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness  To read this review (in a slightly shorter form) on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (6/24/11), click HERE