Philadelphia Inquirer – July 3, 2011
“This beautifully written story is filled with intriguing characters, hints of mystery, and sprinklings of magic that will touch any reader’s heart as a young girl – struggling to save her parents’ shaky marriage – sets out to unlock the family secret that she senses hangs over everyone’s head and affects all of their lives… …the book is 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…”

Elle – June 15, 2011
“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.”

Star Tribune (MN) – June 10, 2011
“…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.”

Library Journal – June 2, 2011
“Nair’s well-crafted debut novel weaves secret gardens and faraway jungles with a juicy tale of friendship, family, and fidelity. …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.”

New World Review – June 1, 2011
“The Girl in the Garden is a lush, lovely first novel by Kamala Nair. 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. It is a taut book that still manages to have many overlapping stories and mysteries. The threads of these stories are beautifully woven by Nair, who traces the past, while rendering the present.”

Booklist – April 29, 2011
“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.”

Publishers Weekly – March 15, 2011
“[An] accomplished debut… … satisfying coming-of-age tale with smooth prose and a lustrous backdrop.”

Kirkus Reviews – March 1, 2011
“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.”

Blog Review Excerpts

Beauty By the Books – June 25, 2011
“It’s always exciting to find a beautifully written story filled with intriguing characters, a foreign setting, and suspense, which is precisely what Kamala Nair has given us in her imaginatively wrought debut THE GIRL IN THE GARDEN…Nair has crafted a spellbinding tale rich with details of everyday life and death in rural India, and the sociological aspects of that country. It’s a bit of a fairy tale, part family drama – coming-of-age tale, and always fascinating.”
— Gail Cooke

The Story Girl – June 16, 2011
“A fairy-tale like quality rested over the narrative, giving it a languid quality…not always surprising, but comfortable and beautiful to read. However, don’t let my “comfortable” experience with the writing style fool you – the story deals with some awkward and tense issues, such as incest, infidelity, mental illness, and suicide…the end of the story was beautiful and rife with symbols of peace, unity and happiness.”

Erin Reads – June 14, 2011
“The Girl in the Garden worked the way Rapunzel or Sleeping Beauty does: lovely and enchanting and just beyond reality’s grasp. But realistic or not quite, the story of family and forgiveness that surrounds Rakhee’s summer in India and beyond is very satisfying.”
— Erin

Hyphen Magazine – May 25, 2011
“Nair explores this notion of facing demons (both imaginary and real), skillfully if sometimes sentimentally, in a hybrid narrative that is part fairytale and part coming-of-age story. Only, not everything is as it seems: the fairytale leads darkly to a burned down garden; and it’s sometimes the adults, rather than the children, who must learn to come of age.”
— Jane Y. Kim

Book Twirps
“This debut novel from author Kamala Nair is beautifully written. The characters are alive and the story…is well-crafted. Nair has an exquisite voice and her descriptions are flawless. It’s a quick read, and definitely worth the time.”
— ODell

India Abroad
“In Kamala Nair’s engaging novel, The Girl in the Garden, a young woman unsure of her engagement is revisiting the events of a childhood summer when her beautiful yet troubled mother spirits her away from her home to a magical Indian village. But the ancestral house in the middle of an idyllic garden harbors a terrible secret.”