The Girl in the Garden: Our July Book of the Month & Super Summer Giveaway!

“That’s when I heard it — the snap of a twig under soft footsteps, and the sound of a whisper. I sat up in bed and peeked out the window, my heart drumming against my chest.” – Kamala Nair, The Girl in the Garden

What exactly is within the dark gardens beyond the stone wall? What strange, strong force has drawn Rakhee’s mother, and now Rakhee herself, back to India? Find out in The Girl in the Garden, the enchanting new novel that is our July Book of the Month.

Kamala Nair’s debut novel starts with the narrator, Rakhee Singh, saying this in a letter to her fiance, “By the time you read this I will be flying over the Atlantic on my way to India.” Juicy, right? The bulk of the story then goes back to the summer when Rakhee is 10 years old and first visited India. After receiving mysterious handwritten letters from India, Rakhee’s mother begins acting erratically. Rahkee is resistant to leave her father and dog behind in their quiet Midwestern suburb as her mother insists on journeying to India.

After arriving at the run-down mansion that her mother grew up in, it’s not long before Rakhee senses a mysterious force about the property. She catches her mother and aunt climbing over the estate’s stone wall nights and witnesses them tired and dazed in the mornings. Then, Rahkee hears of tales of a Hindu goddess preying on children from within the depths of the garden. With a series of twists and turns, we watch as Rakhee grows and changes. We soon understand her yearning to leave her fiance to return to India and settle the score.

Nair’s writing is rich and compelling. While the narrative structure “tells” much more often than it “shows,” the voice of Rakhee is distinct enough and the plot is engaging enough that reading the very descriptive text is quite delightful. The Girl in the Garden is a perfect summer read!

Speaking of summer reading, want to win a copy of this book for the beach, a long car trip, or a rainy day? Leave a comment in response to our discussion question, you’ll have a chance to win The Girl in the Garden! Better yet, one lucky winner will receive the book in a ModCloth tote filled with goodies!

Discussion question: Have you ever been spirited away by a far away place? Describe it.

  • You have until Monday, July 18th, 2011 to participate.
  • Though you may leave comments after the above date, any comments left after 11:59 p.m. ET on July 18th will not be counted into the giveaway.
  • Only comments left on this blog post will be counted.
  • We will contact you via e-mail if you are a winner.
  • For more information, please see our Contests & Comments page.

Also, if you purchase the book from us, leave your own review of the book right here on the site, or on our Goodreads group!

About Angela

Someday, Angela will be tending to her sheep, llamas and alpacas on the “Yarn Farm” and raising award winning honey bees. Until then, the native Pittsburgher is enjoying all things related to knitting, her cats, Mr. Spock, red lipstick, and creativity. Writing is her first true love.

94 Responses to The Girl in the Garden: Our July Book of the Month & Super Summer Giveaway!

  1. Bobby 07/11/2011 at 10:17 am #

    This book sounds like a fantastic read! The thought of Egypt spirits me away frequently. I adore the history and sight. And would KILL to go to the library in Alexandria!

    • lindsey 07/13/2011 at 5:12 pm #

      too bad it was destroyed hundreds of years ago

  2. Sara Mc 07/11/2011 at 10:30 am #

    Every time I see any beautiful natural scenes, I have an unshakable urge to visit. Countries that have been particularly calling me lately are definitely Ireland, New Zealand, and Canada, plus plenty of places here in the US!

  3. Katie Scarlett 07/11/2011 at 11:02 am #

    Although I’ve been on a handful of mission trips at this point, I must admit my trip to Guatemala was the most memorable. The culture, the people, the markets, and even the women’s clothing (traditional and more modern) were unforgettable. I’d go back in a second, because it was the most exhilarating trip I have ever taken, in no small part because it was my first trip out of the country, but mostly because of my old friends, and the new friends I made! <3

  4. Ametra 07/11/2011 at 11:31 am #

    Sounds wondeful. I might have to go buy this book if it I do not win. India what a wonderful country, to travel to. Beside letter, gardens and spur of the moment travel sounds like a wounderful summer read.

  5. Emily 07/11/2011 at 12:03 pm #

    I just got back from a dream trip to Ireland. My mom and I took my 88 year old grandma back for a visit. We stayed with extended family in the house grandma was born in! Amazing trip!

  6. Nina 07/11/2011 at 12:56 pm #

    This book sounds really interesting, plus it has beautiful cover art. I am working on building my collection of books; a wall full of books is like art to me. While I have never dropped everything to just go, I know someday I will see all the far away places I’ve read about.

  7. Tealia 07/11/2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Gosh, I’m a huge bookworm and one of the main reasons to read is the feeling of being teleported to a whole new world and watch as the action happens right in front of me. The Twilight series swept me off to a magical realm of werewolves and vampires. The Hunger Game series pulled me into a world of death, life, and the idea of survival. Scott Westerfeld showed me a world of love, punishment, and a future unliked by its people. I read for the escape from the everyday world and the adventure of the lands unvisited. This book sounds to be a fantastic read as it submerges you into a world of mystery and the world of India.

  8. Eliza 07/11/2011 at 1:05 pm #

    oddly enough the place that ‘spirits me away’ is not that far away from where I live. Its a beautiful river park with hidden trails and waterfalls, whenever the sun is shining I find myself day dreaming of going there, and of the day that me and my love lay in the sun while white butterflies landed on our wet clothes.

  9. Erin 07/11/2011 at 1:15 pm #

    When I read Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan I felt completely transported to a different place, different time—everything! it’s amazing how truly gifted writers can, and in a very real sense, take us to a different place. I love when a really fantastic book can do that for you.

  10. Lexi 07/11/2011 at 1:54 pm #

    I was (and still am!) completely transfixed by Africa, particularly West Africa, and was fortunate enough to be able to study abroad and live there from July 2009 to December 2009. Of course, there were many struggles that I had to overcome during my experience (particularly concerning my health, since I obtained a whole slew of diseases while I was there), but there was something so magical about the country. From spending time with refugees at the Buduburam Liberian Refugee Camp to volunteering to teach English at a local school to taking traditional West African dance courses at the University, my time there was truly amazing…and I often think of when I will be able to go back there again and continue to explore.

  11. Katrina 07/11/2011 at 2:01 pm #

    Ever since I saw the animated version of Anastasia, I have been completely transfixed by Russia. Of course, in my mind Russia still resembles the way it was during the Romanov reign – glittering snow, opulent fabrics, and lots and lots of fur! I’d love to visit someday and imagine myself part of that world.

  12. Mary 07/11/2011 at 2:05 pm #

    Although I’ve been to very few places outside of my home state, the one place that always managed to spirit me away was Hogwarts. For literally half of my life, I could always count on Harry Potter and Hogwarts to take me away from whatever struggles I was dealing with in my life, from middle school drama when I was young, to the pressures of finding a job and entering the real world now at 20.

  13. Rochelle Niccolls 07/11/2011 at 2:11 pm #

    I’ve always been enamoured with Hemingway and Fitzgerald’s worlds in Paris and dreamed of going there, sipping szerac, and wandering where my whims take me. Last year, after a difficult breakup, I bit the bullet and bought plane tickets and booked a vacation apartment in Paris. By the time the trip rolled around, I had a new boyfriend who came with me and we had the most magical week of sitting in cafes, wandering the lit streets at night, and drinking champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower. It was a dream come true!

  14. amanda z 07/11/2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Most recently, the film “Midnight in Paris” brought back memories of a too-short weekend I spent there one summer while studying abroad in college. it’s the most enchanting city in the world and I often dream of going back, and possibly never returning ;)

  15. Colleen Turner 07/11/2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Wow, this book sounds just magical! While I haven’t actually followed when I feel the spirit of a country pulling at me, I often feel to pull to return to Scotland. I have family there and I cannot describe the feeling when I have visited as anything other than going home (although I have only been there twice). I feel a connection to the history and atmosphere of the country and think about it often.

  16. Kayla 07/11/2011 at 2:23 pm #

    The place that spirits me away is definitely Ireland. I went there with my family once when my sister and I were little. We would chase each other around ancient ruins of castles, pretending we were transported back in time to when these grounds were still being used as a home. We found many fairies among the gardens! Because of this trip to Ireland I hope to become an archaeologist and specifically study historical dwellings like those castles my sister and I got the chance to befriend.

  17. Moran 07/11/2011 at 2:26 pm #

    the place that really swept me away was mongolia. i was there for two weeks and couldn’t get enough. everything is so raw and untouched. it’s amazing. i wish i have a chance to go back there.

  18. Maru 07/11/2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Ah yes! Not only does it sound like something i should have in my closet (I love bookcase diversity) but it looks lovely too… Recently I switched ot English books only. If thewriter is originally English especially. I live in Holland so my first language is Dutch and there is nothing wrong with Dutch translations of books..But I can;t help but always want to improve and it makes me feel closer to the writers intend.

    • Maru 07/11/2011 at 2:42 pm #

      And there I pressed post to soon, I fell in love with Germany… Even though it is right next to my country and not exotic in anyway it grasped my heart and has not let go since. It was the first country I ever saw a mountain at. You see, The Netherlands is flat. Really flat, our highest hill could probably be ironed out if someone took the time and was mad enough. When the tour-bus for our school-trip finally made it to the top of a steep strip of highway my jaw dropped, making the stranger next to me smirk and note “You’ve never seen a mountain before have you?” I was dazzled and overwhelmed by the view, trees beneath me and level to my line of sight next and in front of me. Infinite amounts of sky and it only got better as we traveled further. The people in Bavaria are nice…and I do mean -very- nice. The old couple I stayed at made ice cream and whipped cream fresh just for me because i have a food allergy. For one persons birthday they baked three cakes and they send me a card at Christmas and invited me to stay, free of costs. The castles were dazzling and if I ever marry..I do hope it will be at a castle like Hohenzollern. Where morning mist laces through the forest trees and low hanging clouds cling to the stone foundations of the castle rising above it. It may not be exotic..and right around the corner, Germany is all I will need.

  19. Michal 07/11/2011 at 2:29 pm #

    I have always felt like I belong in the American Southwest, ever since my first trip to Arizona, Utah & New Mexico. Whenever I see Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings, watch a good Western, or read a story taking place in that dry desert heat, I get spirited away all over again.

  20. Katie 07/11/2011 at 2:32 pm #

    I was lucky enough to visit Kauai recently and wow, I’ve never been to a more beautiful place. Everything was so green and lush, a far cry from the cities and smog of California. I can’t wait to go back some day.

  21. Eva-Lani 07/11/2011 at 2:35 pm #

    The first time I hiked the Blue Ridge Mountains I was awed by the massive beauty of it. Every time I go there I feel so centered and at peace. I don’t really think I am a spiritual person but being up there makes me feel about as close to spirituality as I get.

  22. Leah 07/11/2011 at 2:43 pm #

    Honestly, I have never had the opportunity to travel beyond the continental US due to the fact that I am still just a teenager. Therefore, I don’t really have any fantastic stories to tell about foreign countries like the people who have commented before me. I have however, experienced the magic of imagination. From reading hundreds of books, my mind has received inspiration from many sources. On many rainy days, you can find me just imagining all that is out there. Living in a small town makes me feel so trapped and I would give so much to be transported to somewhere exciting and exotic. Although one place I have found is a little cottage in the Outer Banks, NC that overlooks the water. On top of the little yellow house is a rooftop deck. After visiting for a week and constantly spending a fair amount of time on that rooftop, I had felt like I was free. One day I would love to travel to the places I conjur up in my thoughts. From Japan to Australia, I’d love to visit it all……. (:

  23. Lauren 07/11/2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Being a fairly young 18 years old, I really haven’t been able to see much of the world yet. I was lucky enough, however, to be able to visit Costa Rica last month, and it blew the doors off of my preconceived notions of the world. I went with my Spanish class to practice our language skills, and to say that the country spirited my away would be the least of it. I fell in love. I come from rural Minnesota where things have always been the same — I went to the same high school my mom and my grandmother went to, and even had some of the same teachers. Costa Rica opened my eyes to a way of life I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams. My group and I hiked through the seemingly endless rainforest, and got to swim in the ocean (which most of us had never even seen before!). It was an amazing time in my life, and it ended much too quickly. This little country enchanted me so much though, it even helped me decide what I want to do with my life — next year I’ll be going to college for a major in Language & International Studies! :)

  24. Summer 07/11/2011 at 3:06 pm #

    This book sounds fantastic!
    Travel, in general, enchants me. There’s nothing like experiencing new places and exotic cultures.

  25. Lindsay 07/11/2011 at 3:20 pm #

    When I was 14 I spent three weeks traveling down Australia’s east coast, from the rainforests up near Cairns down to Sydney. Everywhere was absolutely gorgeous, with the bluest oceans and the lushest greenery I have ever seen.

  26. Mary L. 07/11/2011 at 3:20 pm #

    Muir Woods in California is close to San Francisco but once you enter it, it’s as magical as any fairytale I’ve read. The majestic towering redwoods, thousands of years old, makes you wonder what they’ve witness throughout history. What wisdom would they impart if we mere mortals would listen? Your senses sharpen, the green colors pop out and fade, and you melt into the scenery and yet feel so alive. The pristine air fills your body, cleaning you with every breath from the inside out. The creek water dances by, daring you to chase it into the unknown. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see one of the residents of the forest, nibbling away on a wild raspberry. It’s magic, I tell you!

  27. Sarah Hudson 07/11/2011 at 3:23 pm #

    Ireland spirited me away. The whole time I thought I was dreaming. The open and lush nature surrounds you and walking through towns that are centuries old and touring castle that are even older stole my breath. The people are lively, fun and utterly kind. Plus, the folk tales my father and I were told at a local pub were fascinating. Their history is one that most people don’t ever give much thought towards and it is by far one of the most enriched places I’ve ever traveled to. I’ve never been surrounded by something so majestic and lovely.

  28. Beth 07/11/2011 at 3:26 pm #

    To me, the mark of a really good book is that it makes you feel like the setting is alive. That’s one reason I loved the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The backdrop of WWII is tragic, but the people and the island itself create magic. I let my mom borrow the book, and she can’t stop talking about it. Good books are contagious.

  29. Hilary 07/11/2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Sounds exciting!!!

  30. Jen 07/11/2011 at 3:40 pm #

    Through books, I’m often “spirited away” to a different time AND place! I’m a big fan of historical fiction and classic novels. Reading Pride and Prejudice will transport me to the English countryside, a place that has always captivated me and that I hope to have the chance to visit someday. Plus imagining wearing the lovely Regency fashions is always enjoyable!

  31. Erin 07/11/2011 at 3:50 pm #

    This book sounds very good, I may just have to buy it if I don’t win, which I probably won’t because I have horrible luck with contests. I get spirited away by beautiful places, and the idea of whimsical, foreign places. I’ve never been anywhere like this just yet though.

  32. APB 07/11/2011 at 3:50 pm #

    I’ve been spirited away by my own past really–I was born in Istanbul but moved to the US when I was four, so my memories–of dancing bears, of the calls to prayer, of the ice cream shop where the purveyor sat on a very high stool above the counter, of a snake chased away by men with sticks–seem more dreamy than my American childhood memories. And Turkey still holds that dreamy aura for me.

  33. Tiffany D. 07/11/2011 at 4:18 pm #

    This book sounds amazing. I have seen only good reviews for it so far so I really can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! I have never been able to travel so all my journeys happen through books. Everytime I read a book that takes place somewhere other than here, the US, I am drawn into the culture almost like I am really there. One day I hope to actually visit these places.

  34. Cole 07/11/2011 at 4:44 pm #

    That book sounds wonderful. I always love reading stories that story me away somewhere. I love reading historical fiction because it spirits me to another time and place.

  35. Molly 07/11/2011 at 4:56 pm #

    I was spirited away by the Isle of Lewis – an island in the Upper Hebrides off of the coast of Scotland that is the northernmost, westernmost point of Europe. We stayed with a friend in his white farmhouse on the green cliff by the blue blue sea and walked all over the charming town and the Caleinish Stones and the broughs… I loved drinking tea with Gaelic friends and exploring the island. Take me back!

  36. Shannon J 07/11/2011 at 5:03 pm #

    I haven’t traveled any where terribly exciting but my trip to San Diego with my son was wonderful!! It is so beautiful there and we had so much fun!! Now I would love to get spirited away to Hawaii!!! That is my dream!!

  37. Ti 07/11/2011 at 5:09 pm #

    I live in Mexico, so I’m spirited away every day in my own city, Mexico City. Is such a marvelous place, and with just a change of subway station you can land in a new place. We have prehispanic places, colonial houses, very modern buildings. I love walking in the city and getting to know new places in it. Other places where I’ve been spirited away would be Buenos Aires and Panama City. My father’s family is from Panama and although is a rather little city is so full of things and interesting people: indians, chinese, latinamerican, northamericans… Is like travelling around the world in one place. Buenos Aires is a latinamerican city with such an european flair that all the time I felt like I had crossed the Atlantic to a place like Madrid or Amsterdam. Is amazing, and there’re so many parks that is impressive.
    As to a place I would like to be spirited away it has to be… India. I’ve dreamted all my life about it, I even have photos of India all around my house and love indian food, clothes and jewelry. I dream about going to New Delhi or Bombay and walk around it’s streets, go to the Ganghes or buying species in the market. In my dreams is a place full of light and color.

  38. Joelle 07/11/2011 at 5:12 pm #

    India captivated me from the moment I stepped off the plane and breathed in the air scented with spices, humanity, and ancient stones. I love it! The colors, the people, and did I mention the food?

  39. Kelsey 07/11/2011 at 5:22 pm #

    A place that I have always dreamed about was India. The colors, culture, spices and clothing are so amazingly beautiful! i think my dream would be to take a year and literally travel all over the globe and see the various places (Rome, Greece, London, San Juan, Havana…. etc, etc) that I have wanted to go and hope to see in my lifetime.

  40. Monica 07/11/2011 at 5:25 pm #

    I’m from California, but I once had a serious boyfriend from Alabama. He would take me into the country of Alabama, and I was instantly mesmerized by it’s beauty. Endless green fields, the sound of the wind through the leaves, and the gray thunder clouds that would cover us. I loved running through the fields laughing and enjoying what the country showed me. I believe that right here in the US is just as magical as a faraway land.

  41. Aly 07/11/2011 at 5:29 pm #

    Last spring I went to London and Paris (first time!) with my mother (also her first time!) and I finally got to see so many of the things I had dreamed of seeing as a little girl, namely, Monet’s garden at Giverny outside of Paris. The memories of that day are still fresh, and I often relive it in my mind’s eye. I blogged briefly (but more poetically) about it here: http://bit.ly/aP1aQJ

  42. Lubna 07/11/2011 at 6:14 pm #

    I have this passion for Itay and all its romance especially when I think of Tuscany . The lovely colours of the landscape, the sunset, architecture, the people and their rich culture. The feeling is so amazing even though I have never been there and only seen photos and movies about the place. I have even decided to design and decorate my new flat based on the beauty of Tuscany, with rich velvets, damask and pottery I got online. I am really excited that I will live in my own little piece of Italy right here in the South Pacific!

  43. Jennifer L 07/11/2011 at 6:30 pm #

    Among the cluster of fast food restaurants on campus, there is a bright orange temple dedicated to Krishna, the Hindu god that stands out. Disguised as a vegetarian restaurant, it seemed simple and a understated. One day as I walked past it, I noticed a small alleyway to the side of the building with stone stairs leading into the darkness of underground. I decided to see what was there. The alleyway was narrow, and along the wall tender tendrils of vines and plants reached out to touch me and brush my face as I walked through. At the bottom of the stairs there was utter darkness and another set of stone steps leading up, so I walked up there. When I reached the top, a kaleidoscopic garden came into view. Colors burst from random flowers growing in cracked pots and statues of various Hindu gods smiled, grimaced, and gestured with their hundreds of arms. Who knew such a magical place existed behind this simple restaurant?

  44. Sylvia 07/11/2011 at 7:07 pm #

    This book sounds so exciting! I haven’t done anything exciting this summer, but going to India through a book will be great!

  45. Christy 07/11/2011 at 7:10 pm #

    I always have the same daydream that I hope one day will become reality. I live in a small, cozy wooden home in a European countryside with rolling hills, tall grass, and whispering trees. I am wearing a short pink sundress with little else on except a pair of gold earrings. My bare feet dance across the floor as I am baking cookies with the windows open. A warm breeze fills the room, all while Fever Ray is playing in the background. The window is above the kitchen sink and I can see only this imagine of me, the kitchen, and the beautiful yet wide pasture. I long for this day to come, as I am sure I have yet to find this serene place. Or perhaps I have been here in a past life. Either way, one day I will be there.

  46. kasey 07/11/2011 at 7:28 pm #

    Wow, that books sounds really good! Unfortunately, I have not yet been spirited away to a magical place but I do dream of it. For some reason, desert regions really speak to me lately and I long to travel somewhere like Egypt.

  47. Sheila K. 07/11/2011 at 7:46 pm #

    I would love to go to Alaska but I haven’t made it there yet!

  48. Lee 07/11/2011 at 8:14 pm #

    When I was young, there was a nearby park I went to once a week in the Bay Area. The park had a creek in it, if I waded up it a bit, I could pick blackberries – and the rest of the park would drop out of sight. One day, I went further up the creek than I had ever been, to the point where I had left the park boundary behind, and I emerged in the neighboring redwood grove nature preserve. I was just eight, and it felt like I had totally journeyed to an entirely different land. Since then, I’ve traveled in Europe and Asia, but whenever I think of the phrase “spirited away”, I think of my crawl through the underbrush overhanging the creek, into the open forest.

  49. Megan 07/11/2011 at 8:33 pm #

    ERIN – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is one of my all time fave books and is exactly what I was thinking about as I read the discussion question. A truly magical story. If I was to be spirited away this instant it would be to Southern California with my family.

  50. Brianne 07/11/2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Since I don’t get to travel much, I love planning vacations (even though I can’t actually take them!). My boyfriend and I sit online researching which landmarks we would visit, where we would stay, and what restaurants we would try. Our most recent “trip” is to England. Even though I can’t see everything in person, it’s amazing to be spirited away in my imagination!

  51. Michelle 07/11/2011 at 9:12 pm #

    I think the one place I get spirited away by is India. When I was in the fifth grade we started learning about Asian countries and I was always drawn to it. I loved the bustle of the markets, and the strong sense of spirituality the country seems to exude. The architecture itself is gorgeous and breath-taking, and the traditions and customs of the people are intriguing. I’ve made it a life goal to get there, a personal journey.

  52. Ashlee M. 07/11/2011 at 9:36 pm #

    Every morning at 7:57 am, I board the train. First, it takes me by the glossy shopping mall, and I think of all the people inside. Workers, buyers, window shoppers, all mixed together. Then, I pass my old university, where I studied the law. Those ornate brick buildings are empty now, mid-summer, but they’ll be full of lovers, dreamers, and library-goers soon enough. Soon, the train takes me through the expansive city park, a lush green oasis in the middle of the urban landscape. I think about what a spectacle that park must have been over 100 years ago at the World’s Fair, with so many exotic exhibitions. As the train edges into the inner city, graffiti covers everything — brick buildings, train cars, bridges, even trash cans. I wonder, is it art, or vandalism? Before I can answer, I am whisked by the grand temple of the baseball gods, named after a beer dynasty. It is only fitting, I think to myself. I exit the train in the heart downtown and make my way to the brown marble building where I spend my working week. St. Louis, you are far from idyllic, but no one can say that you lack spirit.

  53. Lo 07/11/2011 at 10:29 pm #

    Every time I go to the beach and watch the ocean I feel like I could be on any coast, anywhere in the world, watching the ocean

  54. Sydney 07/11/2011 at 10:30 pm #

    Wow, where to start? I’ve been interested in traveling for years now, and the specific culture I’m into changes all too often. However, one’s lasted throughout my whole life: France. I’ve always been taken by the architecture, the history, the language, the romanticized atmosphere of it all. I’m anxiously awaiting the moment I can see the Eiffel Tower in real life. :)

  55. Eliza Z 07/11/2011 at 11:24 pm #

    I just spent 5 months living in Cape Town, South Africa and now that I’m back in the States all I can think about are reasons that will bring me back there. Saying I am “spirited away” with the place would be a vast understatement. The juxtaposition of the peaceful nature of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head which can always be seen in the background of the bustling city view is something unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The fact that such two distinct worlds can coexist together reflect on the hopes that the people there will eventually be able to do the same. And that same hope can be felt within the contagious energy of the people who want to do nothing more than share their beautiful culture with everyone that wants to know more about it. The rich mixture of an intriguing and unique history of the city, along with its fervent effort (and success) to be one of the most vibrant cities in the world make it such a dynamic place to visit. It’s an incredible city that will captivate anyone that makes the journey there.

  56. Casee Marie 07/12/2011 at 12:21 am #

    This sounds absolutely enchanting! I’d love to enter to win; let’s see if I can come up with an interesting answer to the discussion question. I’ve never really been to a faraway place to begin with, but I have found myself spirited away by places rather close at hand. Particularly New York City in about 2003. My sister is a ballet dancer and she was involved in a summer intensive program with the American Ballet Theatre for several weeks. Along with another dancer and our moms we occupied a little apartment in Battery Park; I myself didn’t stay very long, but long enough to get a taste for Manhattan living. I was a horseback-riding Midwesterner to the core and typically refused to visit the city – any city – if I could help it. Yet somehow in my time there I became a city girl. I saw Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the first time there, appropriately, and I experienced 5th Ave and the glory of people-watching at Starbucks at 11am. The city changed me and I never looked back. A nice story, though it ends with me living in Nebraska so do with that what you will. I’d never trade the memories of that lovely time in New York!

  57. Natasha 07/12/2011 at 12:21 am #

    Sounds like such an interesting book! I’ve always wanted to travel to India, it looks like such a beautiful place. Especially the beaches!!

  58. Julia 07/12/2011 at 1:52 am #

    somehow I always enjoy the scenes of abandoned buildings. Those of yester-year as especially appealing. Not so much for the creep factor, although that’s good enough, but rather for the realization that even decay is beautiful. Especially those decaying buildings that have a story to tell. Like those of Central Europe and S. America. I’m getting chills just talking about it!

  59. Amanda 07/12/2011 at 2:15 am #

    I have always been drawn to London- not to the glitz and glam of SoHo or Chelsea but the quiet back corners in places like Finchely and Greenwich. My heart lives there even if my pocketbook doesn’t provide the opportunity for me. This is a poem I wrote for all the lovely, lonely places in London. (Inspiration comes from things that draw you in. Twee? Maybe. But is it love? Definitely.) “Where Things Go To Disappear”
    there is a peacock in the tree it can’t get down.
    its feathers are so blue it makes everyone seasick.
    the neighbor who never forgets to take out the trash stares.
    it’s not really a peacock though
    it’s a partridge.
    and it’s not in a tree
    it’s on a pole.
    take a picture
    and put the picture in a yellow envelope.
    send it as a wedding gift.
    a summer wedding is preferable.
    it will arrive late because airmail is untrustworthy
    planes have a tendency to sink.
    the envelope will be alright because it’s actually a bat.
    a little one.
    it beats itself against every window at night.
    it will die trapped in its peacock body.
    what a strange infestation of things that fly
    but can’t really fly.

  60. Leire 07/12/2011 at 5:15 am #

    Alaska! I worked there 5 years ago and I go back often in my dreams. Heartbreaking views, magic landscapes… I’d love to visit it again and I’d love to win this book! :)

  61. Kathy 07/12/2011 at 8:38 am #

    This book sounds so enchanting. I wonder how she will pull together the feel of the Secret Garden and theaspect of setting it in India. This book just sounds like a good read.

  62. Morgan 07/12/2011 at 10:37 am #

    Every time I play music I am taken to a different and interesting place. The different instruments I use create the various landscapes and the melody lines create the plot of my adventure.

  63. Beth Woodruff 07/12/2011 at 10:50 am #

    I love being swept away by the location of a book. I have traveled throughout Europe and find myself gravitating towards books set in Europe. I can still vividly describe the streets of Barcelona as described in Shadow of the Wind. Its my favorite form of escape since my travel budget is quite low being a recent college graduate and all.

  64. Rachel 07/12/2011 at 10:52 am #

    i’ve only been outside of my state twice, let alone out of the country. i have always wanted to visit other places and experience a new culture, sometimes i feel sheltered and would love a shake up in scenery. i find indian culture fascinating -the food, clothes, lifestyle, i love it! i’d also love to visit the UK, mostly for the accents and my love for the british invasion music of the 1960′s ;)

  65. Sabrina 07/12/2011 at 10:54 am #

    I have to say, I’m such a sucker for a good story involving a country I’ve never been, especially one with such beauty as India. It’s so easy to be swept away with the imagery and give yourself a mini mental vacation. I’m definitely a book nerd and I’ve been looking for a good book to read this summer since the only vacation I’m getting is my 1 hour lunch break at work. So looks like this might be it!

  66. Kaitlyn 07/12/2011 at 12:45 pm #

    I love anything that is the essence of nature. Even reading about lush green trees in a book makes me want to go into the wilderness and bring my camera. Someday I will get to zip line through the rainforest!

  67. rhea 07/12/2011 at 6:19 pm #

    Ireland is the furthest away I’ve ever been. And while distance doesn’t always equal being spirited away, in this case it did. I needed a vacation away more than anything ever before just to breathe and Ireland had the best 40degree weather everyday to breathe in. It was green and just lovely.

  68. Annette 07/12/2011 at 6:53 pm #

    I have never been out of Australia (as of yet) however have always felt a strong urge to visit France. Not just Paris and all it’s charm, but the villages, the winding cobblestone streets, the people – much like is seen in the movie Chocolat. Every time I see something about France I say to my Mum, “One day I’m going to go there”, and she replies, “I know.”

  69. Taylor 07/12/2011 at 8:47 pm #

    The thought of France has always drawn my imagination to release its full potential. Though the farthest I’ve been from my suburban home is Mexico, I find my self day dreaming about France at a constant rate. I don’t really know what it is about the country but I’ve always felt a starry eyed fascination when the country is even mentioned. I think I’ve exhausted my local libraries supply on anything that mentions France, but I still haven’t lost that obsessive curiosity that I must satisfy soon with any luck <3

  70. Jen 07/12/2011 at 8:57 pm #

    I went to Jerusalem once. It was a magical place, full of shops and stalls that were reminiscent of an ancient time.

  71. Tish 07/12/2011 at 10:16 pm #

    That book sounds fabulous!
    Since the age of 4 I have had my nose in a book, dreaming of fabulous places (real or not!) that I’d love to visit one day. Currently I’m obsessed with biographies so these days I’m dreaming of Versailles or gorgeous English castles.

    • Amy 07/13/2011 at 12:52 pm #

      The best part of books is the fantasy of living a different life. :-)

  72. Kendra 07/13/2011 at 1:12 am #

    This book sounds riveting! It seems that this enchanting read is perfect for those who love to, or at least wish to, travel. The listed plot description makes me want to pick up this book and read it right now. I absolutely love novels that incorporate Indian culture!

  73. Amy 07/13/2011 at 12:51 pm #

    In terms of distance, Washington State to Oklahoma isn’t really considered a “far away place.” However, when it means leaving everything you’ve ever known, family, friends, job, memories, it might as well be as far as the moon. After falling into (what I thought was) love, he spirited me off to Oklahoma. My father and I drove down and I began my new life. Unfortunately, the life I thought I was moving too didn’t happen, but it got me to Georgia, where I came into myself as both and adult and a woman. I have a strong sense of self here surrounded by fantastic friends and a life I’ve built up by myself. The Girl in the Garden is about change and self awareness, which is exactly what my life has been about.

  74. Lokyee 07/13/2011 at 3:30 pm #

    I haven’t been out of the country much, but books have always done a great job of spiriting me away.

  75. Amy 07/13/2011 at 5:27 pm #

    I’ve never been to another country outside of the US, but that doesn’t mean that there are not beautiful places on my home soil. Every time I even begin to ponder the gorgeous mountain spans of the northwest or the amazing rolling hills of the prairie, my soul is caught up with wonder and awe of a Creator who has such an “eye for beauty”.

  76. Jenny K 07/13/2011 at 6:20 pm #

    I haven’t been travelling much during my life thus far but I have been on a few trips that have really inspired me. I can tell when I have been truly inspired by the beauty, spirit, and feel of a place when I simply cannot put down my cameras. This was the case when I visited the Philippines five or so years ago. It was so different than the US in so many ways – I simply could not take it all in at once. At the time, my digital camera only had a limited amount of memory and my other camera was a 35 mm. I only wish I could have taken more photos.
    I was truly spirited away.

  77. Maria-Lynn 07/13/2011 at 7:03 pm #

    This sounds like a really captivating read! I love a novel with vivid imagerey, compelling characters, and a little bit of scandal.

  78. Brittan-Morgan 07/13/2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Believe it or not my old school spirited me away, and continues to do so in my imagination, to this day. It was a teeny tiny private (under 300 students) on Mt. Desert Island. Every morning was like awakening in some muddled form of my favorite stories. My dorm, which was actually one of several small cottages scattered throughout the campus, was on the edge of a cliff and I always felt like DuMaurie’s Rebecca when I crossed the formal gardens to sit at the edge of the cliff, or while watching from my window as the waves broke against the rocks during a storm. There was a sunken and badly neglected garden with crumbling statuary and wild vines and blueberries that felt like the secret garden. A former student constructed a human sized nest in a huge old tree in the woods, which could hold two students, and reminded me of Wind in the Willows. A meditation pavilion looked like it was stolen from the elves in Lord of the Rings with its white stone and delicate gothic construction. The school buildings themselves seemed to have leapt off the pages themselves; one a stone fortress like building with leaded glass and turrets that could have been a mini Hogwarts, another a tudor mansion that could have been the setting for Atonement, and another a Newport style sprawling beach “cottage” style that could be found in any Henry James novel. All surround by the smell of ocean and wood fires. This atmosphere alone was magic and every story I read while I was there was able to whisk me away in its own way. There are so many wonderful things about that place, it was so creative and dreamy and I am constantly reflecting upon all the little nooks and crannies that I loved, and I call upon my memories to fuel my own writing.

  79. Kk 07/13/2011 at 11:16 pm #

    It sounds like a lovely book- I always enjoy when details are so well written like that! I’ve been spirited away once before- it was in a small log cabin in northern Claifornia. By a gorgious, sparkling lake; Lake Siskiyou! There were deers and squirrels that came around every morning to greet me, and people rode their bikes around laughing as they headed to the picnic area or to take a dip into the calm waters. I wish I was still there and I miss all the wonderful memories! I’ll never forget how I was able to emerged myself into nature’s beauty.

  80. Jane 07/14/2011 at 9:36 am #

    This book sounds fascinating; the kind of novel that I will probably devour in a day while I’m supposed to be working on something else! This actually reminds me of one little town I visited on a recent trip to Italy. My group stayed in a little spa town in Tuscany near Florence called Montecatini. On a mountain above the town there was an even smaller village alled Montecatini Alto, which my friends and I visited when exploring. After a brief cable car ride up the mountain, we were amazed at the exquisite view of the entire city. We spend the next hour running around and exploring the town (I, coincidentally, in my favorite modcloth dress), from tiny shops to the old church at the top of the mountain. The village was honestly the most beautiful place I have ever been – vibrant colors, warm sunshine, picturesque little streets and alleyways. I wish I could have stayed for more than an hour, but I was able to leave knowing that this beautiful little paradise will still be there when I return to Tuscany, whenever that might be!

  81. Abigail 07/14/2011 at 1:42 pm #

    I travelled to Vietnam once when I was young to experience the culture that I came from, now when I think back I only remember very vague bits and pieces like massive fruit farms and monkeys everywhere. One day in the near future I hope to return so I can really understand all the things I saw on that trip.

  82. Lis 07/14/2011 at 2:53 pm #

    I love exploring other places, but one of the most vivid memories of a place that truly took me away to another place, was when I was on a Outreach trip to Romania. The group I was with had a few days to explore each city that we were in, to help keep us sane as we worked at hospices for HIV/AIDS positive children; we were in the town of Brasov which is in the north of Romania, and close to Dracula’s castle. The mountains, and medieval buildings took me away to the pages of Grimm’s fairy-tales, and to the mystery and thrill of reading Dracula for the first time. Everything felt magical, and that there was a sense of history seeping through every building, walking through the street at night I felt like I was transported to a different time, where I could stumble upon some sort of creature, or monster at any moment.

  83. Shayla 07/15/2011 at 12:14 pm #

    This book sounds lovely! I recently went on a dream trip to Japan, where I visited my college roommate at her home. I had been wanting to go there since high school, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity! I miss it so much.

  84. Amy 07/15/2011 at 9:26 pm #

    I too haven’t had the chance to travel much being relatively young but the trip I will always remember is when I went to Boston with my aunt. My favorite part was just being in the city, I had never experienced a city that large. The Harry Potter series was the first to “spirit me away” and when I turned 11 I was half expecting my acceptance letter!

  85. Lia 07/16/2011 at 12:15 pm #

    When I was seven, my family moved to Switzerland for three years. As an American/Brit, I didn’t speak a word of French and I was sure I’d hate it. But Switzerland’s European magic took me away, and I had to love the rustic elegance of the country and the Parisian modernity of the cities. Switzerland took me away, and I still visit as often as I can.

  86. Clarissa S 07/16/2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Paris was one of the most incredible trips of my life! I have always been in love with all things french – and when my aunt took me in fourth grade, I was absolutely swept away by the experience. A trip to the Louvre to see the mona lisa, floating down the Seine in a glass topped boat, eating mint ice cream in the garden of Versailles. But more than seeing these famous landmarks, it was the magic of the city itself that made me so fascinated. The clip-clap of your feet on an empty side-street at night. The beautiful sound of a street performer with his accordion. The old, rustic, romantic feeling of the city was what made me completely enamored with it.

    I felt spirited away as I climbed up the steps to the Sacre Coeur – I remember the city was foggy, but absolutely beautiful! But I felt the most spirited away when i went to the top of the Notre Dame cathedral. The view wasn’t as high up as the Eiffel Tower or the Sacre Coeur, but we were right by the Seine – it was fantastic! As i stood there, a child looking over the beautiful, vast city of paris, I heard what sounded like a chorus, their singing reverberating all around. It was such a lovely sound, and I felt like I was in a different world. But as the tour of Notre Dame continued, i realized that it was not singing – it was the bells of the church ringing. The tour continued, and we went into the belltower – and in front of me was a huge, beautiful bell, ringing, making the most beautiful sound I had ever heard in my life.

  87. J-marie 07/16/2011 at 5:37 pm #

    I continuously dream about Paris. I just finished two semesters of French in college, and everytime my professors would talk about life in France, I would totally be spirited away. It’s a wonder I passed my exams with all the dreaming i was doing and planning for a trip there. In general, I love to read about other cultures and would be so excited and grateful to win this book!

  88. jasmine 07/16/2011 at 11:07 pm #

    it’s all about england, england, england. i lived there for three years, and was charmed by the architecture, rolling plains, lovely accents, all the tea and biscuits, sheep, the west end, and all the quirky expressions only the british would have. i dream of moving back there one day.

  89. Guen 07/17/2011 at 6:35 pm #

    Going to South Korea for the first time when 21 was definitely a surreal experience. Fully expecting to feel alien, I immediately, strangely, felt at home. Fully expecting for others to quickly recognize my foreign-ness, I surprisingly found that everyone thought I was native to the country. Fully expecting an awkward first meeting with my father’s family, I felt warmed by their welcome, despite our inability to convey these senses through words. In reality I had been spirited away to do research for my thesis but found so much more of the heart.

  90. Prague 07/17/2011 at 11:13 pm #

    A few years ago, my boyfriend at the time moved to Switzerland while I finished college. On spring break, we did a whirlwind tour of Geneva, Lausanne, Paris, and London. I remember the gardens and tunnels of Paris, the cobblestones of Lausanne, the sheer energy of London. It’s hard to top views of mountains while looking out over a vineyard, but my favorite memory was my guy looking at me after visiting a bazaar on the shores of Lake Geneva, where he’d bought a sword as a wedding present for a friend. He asked, “I bet you never thought you’d be walking down the streets of Europe with an older man carrying a sword, now did you?”

  91. Samantha 07/22/2011 at 1:40 am #

    I haven’t traveled a whole lot in my life, but one place I went that was completely breathtaking was the Grand Canyon. Standing on the edge was of course amazing, but it didn’t really hit me until I got to take a helicopter ride over the whole thing. When I looked down there were those vast orange canyons with one ribbon of bright blue running through it; the Colorado river. It’s an experience I’ll definitely never forget.

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