A Few Words on The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair
The Girl in the Garden is a tale of family secrets and tragedy. The story is laid out as a letter from the protagonist to her fiance telling the tale of one eventful summer in her childhood that holds many secrets.
The tale follows young Rakhee the summer of her eleventh birthday. As an American born Indian she travels to India for the first time with her mother and meets a rather diverse cast of characters from her family. This is a story that encompasses many issues from the difficulties of being different to those of living with a family member suffering from depression.
The perspective is all from young Rakhee and her experiences developing a relationship with new family members and eventually uncovering a very well hidden family secret. The imagery provided in this tale from the descriptions of the sweltering heat to visions of her mother are vivid and detailed. Some of the greatest come from that of a child’s view of her mother and father, particularly the ephemeral beauty of her mother. Other brilliant descriptions come from details of the foliage surrounding Rakhee. There are lovely descriptions of a lush garden and how it changes as secrets are unveiled. Beauty is treated carefully in this tale. Some of the characters are described as truly beautiful, even if it comes more from their actions than their form. Others are cold and seemingly ugly if only in their behavior.
The adults in this tale are often highly unlikeable. They hold secrets, they are prideful, they are scary … Coming from a child’s perspective this all feels natural. There is a vast display of generations in this novel, from the elderly to the young.
The story itself is unique and one that kept me turning pages and devouring what was written. There is a mystery provided that only this young girl can solve by penetrating the walls the adults have built up.
Overall The Girl in the Garden is a a vivid novel that keeps the reader turning the pages. This story has so many aspects to it that it is hard to sum up, but it is well worth the read. Nair is an excellent writers who combines beautiful imagery with mystery all in the unique setting of a remote Indian village.