x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

The Girl in the Garden: looking back at a time of new beginnings

A strong debut novel by Kamala Nair, it tells a story of heartache and separation set during graduation time at Yale University.

The Girl in the Garden
Kamala Nair
Grand Central Publishing
The Girl in the Garden Kamala Nair Grand Central Publishing Dh107

Rakhee Singh, a successful young NRI about to graduate from Yale, has just left her fiance with a letter and her engagement ring. While the latter denotes the seriousness of her departure, it is the sheaf of papers she leaves him that fully elaborates the reason behind her choice. The Girl in the Garden is a story of heartache and separation, but it is her past rather than her present from where Rakhee must contend with these dual torments.

As the letter unfolds, so do Rakhee's memories of a sojourn at her mother's homestead in Malanad, Kerala. Through the eyes of the child she had been then, she recollects the mysterious letters to her mother that prompted the hasty visit, a set of relatives who both intrigue and startle her with their notions of familial duty, and the revelations that shatter the comfortable life she had always known.

Nair's debut novel is a solid start to her career. Each character rises to their role with dignity, including those that are depicted far from idealistically. The mysteries of the Verma family thicken with every page and linger long after the last has been turned.