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Miss Timmins' School for Girls: A Novel Paperback – June 21, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; First Paperback Edition edition (June 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061997749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061997747
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,236,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“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.” (Booklist)

“Currimbhoy’s fiction debut is an absorbing atmospheric thriller. . . . [A] gripping tale.” (Publishers Weekly)

“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)

From the Back Cover

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.

Customer Reviews

I am sorry to say that I just couldn't finish this book.
Philly gal
Quite disgusting at times, very obviously written to sensationalise the crowds.
Funkyme
Story just meanders until you don't really care about the characters.
Adriennemk

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Angie Boyter VINE VOICE on July 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The year is 1974, and 21-year-old Charu Apte leaves her sheltered middle-class home in India to teach in another sheltered middle-class environment, a British-run boarding school for girls in a small town halfway across the country. During the day, Charu moves in a British-Indian world of Shrewsbury biscuits and tea at one meal and dal and bhakris at the next (Don't worry; there is a glossary at the end, although I wish it had been more complete.), but at night another teacher, the enigmatic Miss Prince, exposes her to the world of pot, rock-and-roll, and even occasional acid. Charu soon becomes involved in an intense love affair that ends suddenly when a teacher's body is found at the bottom of a cliff, an apparent murder victim. The outer turmoil of the search for the murderer is matched by Charu's inner turmoil involving her beloved ayi's (mother's) serious illness and her own confused sexuality.
It has been a long time since I have read a book that created such an effective atmosphere. The writing is wonderfully poetic , at its best when portraying the physical setting and Indian culture & family relationships. By contrast the British veneer seems rather pallid & the drug culture somewhat blurred, both of which are appropriate.
The mystery at the heart of the plot was also gripping. As various people come forth, generally reluctantly, to reveal new information, suspicion turns from a school employee with a dubious night-time occupation to the headmistress. All of the possible theories seem plausible, as does the final denouement... if, indeed, it is final.
Nonetheless, the book is somewhat uneven in quality.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Well, I did manage to finish this meandering 491-page novel, which by the time I was halfway through it was far from being a sure thing... In her story of young and naive Charulata Apte, sheltered and protected by her parents, who suddenly encounters a whole array of experiences for which she is unprepared (from teaching teenagers to be the object of an older woman's sexual obsession), Nayana Currimbhoy has thrown everything she can imagine about Charu's life. That makes this not only an unwieldy novel, but one that is downright confusing. Is Currimbhoy giving us a mystery? A coming-of-age-tale? A family melodrama -- and if so, about whose family? There are so many false paths -- a stalker here, a vanishing Hindu teacher there; a teenager who frightens herself into what feels like schizophrenia; a disparate group of drop-outs with whom Charu spends a lot of time smoking pot; a secret involving Charu's own family; one involving young Moira Prince's background -- that the weight of all the information, all the subplots and all the detail just squashes the story that is at the heart of any good novel flatter than the proverbial pancake.

Yes, there's a murder. The young English woman who also teaches at boarding school in an Indian hilltop town is found dead at the bottom of a cliff. Suspects roll by; Charu, seduced by the young woman, may know more than she is admitting about events. Or does she? Ultimately, I realized I didn't even care that much. Beyond Currimbhoy's excellent portrayal of the claustrophobic environment of an Indian boarding school in 1974, and her atmospheric picture of a remote community that is essentially cut off from the wider world during the monsoon season, I found little to grab and hold my attention.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Utah Mom VINE VOICE on November 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Charu, a young, naive woman becomes a teacher at a girls boarding school high in the mountains of India. She is seduced by another teacher and becomes entangled in a romantic liaison. Charu is caught firmly in the web when the other teacher is murdered.

I nearly stopped reading Miss Timmin's School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy after the first 125 pages. In fact, I put it aside and read another book before picking it back up and finishing the novel. While the background information in the first section of the book is essential to the plot and mystery of the novel, it seemed slow and plodding. I don't like reading the details of any sexual encounters and felt that this novel was too detailed in that regard.

Once the murder had taken place and the school girls become amateur detectives, I enjoyed the novel much more. It included just the right amounts of intrigue and suspicion and kept me guessing until the end. Though it was still burdened by lengthy additions that didn't contribute to the plot. The book should have been at least 100 pages shorter.

Currimbhoy does possess a gift for words. At times a poet, she expertly brings the characters and setting to life. Charu, while rarely wise, is a sympathetic character and Currimbhoy portrays her as the innocent and the flawed, thus entirely human.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. Elkinson on July 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was instantly taken by the beautiful prose,confused by the scattered plot,then disappointed by too many inauthentic characters. Many parts did not make a whole.
There's a mystery here. One of the teachers at the school is pushed off a cliff to her death. Suspicion is everywhere and on everyone.
What lifts this up a bit is that this all takes place in India in the mid 70's. Here the stodgy mix questionably with the free and experimental. Love blooms, though some of the exploits are over the top and could have been toned down for much better effect.
I feel this book has much to offer and I enjoyed reading it for what was was clear and beautifully written, it just doesn't hold up throughout. I think it could have been much improved by considerably more editorial attention.
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More About the Author

Nayana Currimbhoy grew up in India where she attended a boarding school much like the one in her novel. She moved to the United States in the early eighties, and lives now in New York City with her husband, an architect, and their teen-aged daughter. Miss Timmins' School for Girls is her first novel.

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Miss Timmins' School for Girls: A Novel
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