The Girl in the Garden
Author: Kamala Nair
ARC Acquired from: Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley
Now a newly engaged adult, Rakhee remains haunted by the events of her one summer in India. The novel tells the story of that summer in a long letter written to her fiancee, explaining why she must defer their engagement. Until she confronts her past, she cannot face her future. What happened that summer?
One of these days, I would really love to read a novel set in the Indian subcontinent or with first generation desi folk and not have it be almost entirely depressing. Sure, times are hard there, but there must be some books where no characters commit suicide by jumping into a well. I mean, there just have to be.
I did like this much better than Tiger Hills, but, be warned, its still very sad. Pretty much the only part that isn't completely depressing is the epilogue. Reading both of these novels, I get the idea of just how much family history can haunt people. The mistakes of the previous generation snowball into even worse mistakes by the next. Also, never try to marry your daughter off to an awkward, stuttering creeper, because it never ends well.
The Girl in the Garden confronts tough issues, like depression, arranged marriage, pregnancy and divorce. These issues are dealt with well for the most part, not hitting the reader over the head with an agenda. Through Rakhee, it is clear that issues of childhood take a long time to get over (so true), but that it is important to get closure before trying to be a real person, so that you can close the cycle.
The plot twists were pretty much all things I saw coming from many miles away. There really was no other way things were going to go. There is one twist that I swear was not revealed but must be the case. I rather wish I could talk with someone else who read the book so that they could tell me if I'm crazy or not; all I can say is that it involves Prem.
Overall, this wasn't a book I particularly enjoyed, but, for those who enjoy tragic family stories, this is quite well done.