Miss Timmins' School for Girls
By Nayana Currimbhoy
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780061997747, 512pp.)
Publication Date: July 2011
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A murder at a British boarding school in the hills of western India launches a young teacher on the journey of a lifetime
In 1974, three weeks before her twenty-first birthday, Charulata Apte arrives at Miss Timmins' School for Girls in Panchgani. Shy, sheltered, and running from a scandal that disgraced her Brahmin family, Charu finds herself teaching Shakespeare to rich Indian girls in a boarding school still run like an outpost of the British Empire. In this small, foreign universe, Charu is drawn to the charismatic teacher Moira Prince, who introduces her to pot-smoking hippies, rock n' roll, and freedoms she never knew existed.
Then one monsoon night, a body is found at the bottom of a cliff, and the ordered worlds of school and town are thrown into chaos. When Charu is implicated in the murder—a case three intrepid schoolgirls take it upon themselves to solve—Charu's real education begins. A love story and a murder mystery, Miss Timmins' School for Girls is, ultimately, a coming-of-age tale set against the turbulence of the 1970s as it played out in one small corner of India.
- In Miss Timmins School for Girls, young Charu, fresh from a conventional Brahmin upbringing, is suddenly exposed to Christian British-run boarding school, as well as to the iconoclastic hippie culture of the 1970s. “I watched my worlds collide,” says Charu, “not in fire and brimstone as I had feared, but in comic relief.” Do you think this is true of the book? What are the main cultural conflicts our heroine faces? Are they all resolved through humor?
“A vivid debut novel.”
-National Geographic Traveler
“The intimate portrait the novel offers of India at this specific point in its history is compelling, as is the dramatic relationship between Charu and the deeply troubled Moira.”
“Currimbhoy’s fiction debut is an absorbing atmospheric thriller. . . . [A] gripping tale.”
“An irresistible novel that hurls forward at breathtaking speed toward an unpredictable climax.”
-Thrity Umrigar, bestselling author of The Space Between Us and The Weight of Heaven
“Beautifully written, atmospheric and very funny. Ms. Currimbhoy’s debut novel contains entire worlds. I couldn’t put it down.”
-Gary Shteyngart, bestselling author of Super Sad True Love Story
“Exotic, mysterious, and haunting, MISS TIMMINS’ SCHOOL FOR GIRLS kept me up late for some delicious, spooky reading nights. I adored this book.”
-Katrina Kittle, author of The Kindness of Strangers and The Blessings of the Animals