When Rakhee Singh is just ten years old, her world is shaken irrevocably when her beautiful yet troubled mother spirits her away from her father and their Minnesota home to visit her ancestral estate in an Indian village untouched by the centuries. It is there that Rakhee meets her enigmatic relatives for the first time, seeks adventure with her three cousins, and learns the devastating truth about why her mother fled the childhood home she loved. During the course of that scorching summer, Rakhee will discover, in the mysterious jungle behind the house, a walled-up garden holding a terrifying secret. It is a secret that will expose long-hidden family skeletons and forever influence her beliefs about fidelity and love.
Rakhee Singh is about to graduate with a master’s degree from Yale School of Architecture and then begin what she hopes will be a promising career at a design firm in New York. She is also engaged to be married, but this night she is on an airplane back to India. She left her boyfriend the diamond engagement ring and the written story of why she was leaving without saying a word to him. Rakhee, in her note that was attached to story, said she couldn’t marry him until she unbound “…the demons that were under her bed” and that she could not marry him until she had “banished them.” She signed the note, left her address in India and hoped he would understand.
You see, Rakhee had pretty much led him to believe that she’d only ever been in Plainfield, Minnesota where she grew up. He had no idea whatsoever that Rakhee had spent an entire summer when she was 10 years old in Kerala-Malanad, India. Malanad was a rural village in Kerala, located at the southernmost tip of India. What occurred that summer kept me bound to the pages like a duck on water until I was done. Even though my copy is the large print version, I read all 477 pages in one sitting with only short breaks for tea!
The story that emerged the summer Rakhee was 10 will stay with me forever! I adored Rakhee, such a caring, intelligent and extremely caring and understanding girl for her age. I loved the other characters just as much, especially Tulasi and Krishna. This story reminded me so much of Rohinton Mistry’s ‘A Fine Balance’, which I also thoroughly enjoyed.
The writing in “The Girl In The Garden” was brilliant, intelligent, fluid and flowed beautifully like a stone being tossed upon the water and watching the concentric circles of water teaming out one after the other. “The Girl In The Garden” could be a best book of 2011 and in my opinion, ranks right up there with ‘The Help’ and ‘The Kitchen House’. This is an unbelievable accomplishment for a "debut" novel! Kamala Nair writes with the passion and talent of a well-seasoned author.
Thank you Kamala Nair for one of the most beautiful and entertaining stories I’ve read this year!!