“[An] accomplished debut . . . a satisfying coming-of-age tale with smooth prose and a lustrous backdrop.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Elegantly turned, conveying a sense of magic…charming individual moments are sprinkled throughout…Nair gently packs the story with plenty of commentary about Indian domestic life, mythology and, most of all, its sexist culture.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“A daring fairy tale of a story, Nair’s first novel audaciously tackles issues ranging from puberty to friendship to abuse, providing plenty of adventure as well.”


“Nair effortlessly brings her childhood memories to life, peppering her novel with spellbinding Indian fables…the perfect embellishments to an already flavorful backdrop. As much as Rakhee’s coming-of-age journey owns this novel, without her grandmother, her harsh and prideful aunt Sadhana, her troubled mother, Chitra, and her sidekick cousin Krishna, this novel would lack its fresh, fascinating, and harrowing perspective on women’s ever-changing cultural and social roles. These women’s mistakes, regrets, fears, and sacrifices make them utterly relatable.”


“This is an auspicious first novel, set in India, featuring a delightful young heroine/sleuth…Secrets tumble out at a furious pace, but Nair never loses control of her elegant and surprising narrative.”

—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“More than just a pleasant read, it’s destined to be a classic; a fascinating book that will hold the attention of a 14-year-old, a 28-year-old, or a 56-year-old.”

—Philadelphia Inquirer

“Kamala Nair’s first book announces a writer with a big future. Elegantly written, it is full of intriguing plot twists, and life-affirming wisdom. I read it almost at one sitting, putting aside the Saturday ritual of doing The New York Times crossword.”

—Arthur J. Pais, Features Editor of India Abroad weekly

The Girl in the Garden is a lush, lovely first novel…Set in the southern tip of India, the story is a part fairy tale, and part coming-of-age novel that combines elements of myth and gothic romance, in a combination that is deliciously compelling.”

—Sally Cobau, Neworld Review

“This story, ripe with family secrets, will keep you turning pages until squinting you’ll notice daylight has shifted to evening and your mojito glass is all ice…With expertly woven passages, Nair paints an emotional coming of age tale that announces her as a writer to watch.”

—Republic of Brown

“The unexpected twists and dark secrets lurking make it difficult for readers to put this engrossing story down. A strong cast of well-developed characters will further capture their emotions. Fans of The Secret Garden (the author was inspired by this childhood classic) as well as lovers of family dramas and Indian fiction will find a new favorite in Nair.”

—Library Journal

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