Miss Timmins’ School for Girls (TLC Tour Review)

Title: Miss Timmins’ School for Girls

Author: Nayana Currimbhoy

Publication Year: 2011

Pages: 512

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

Source: Review copy from the publisher, through TLC Book Tours

From the cover:

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.

I have a not-so-secret fascination with boarding schools. Really! My parents always used them as a threatened punishment when I was a kid, and I didn’t realize until I was much older that people actually went to these on purpose, without having been sent there simply because they made their parents angry.

I was even more fascinated by the idea of seeing the inner workings of a boarding school from the perspective of a teacher. Ultimately, Miss Timmins’ School for Girls is told from a few different perspectives, namely from Charu’s point of view and from the perspective of one of the students who tries to find out what really happened to “the Prince”. The sections narrated by both of these characters were great – there was enough depth for each of them, and they had differing views on some things, and definitely different “insider” abilities amongst the other characters.

And you know what I’m upset I didn’t figure out at first? This book has LESBIANS!!!! Or, rather, it has at least one lesbian, and one character who may or may not be a lesbian but definitely has a lesbian relationship going on for a large chunk of the book, and whose feelings about that relationship colour everything else in the book to do with her and how she sees things. I was a little afraid at first that the lesbian relationship thing would be problematic, especially if one of the characters was “seduced” away from assumed heterosexuality into a homosexual relationship. I’m not going to say that the representation of queerness in this book was fantastic or breathtaking or groundbreaking or anything trite like that, but I will say that I enjoyed the way that it was handled overall. It was sort of … an issue, but also a non-issue, at the same time. It was part of the background while also being a main plot point.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, especially once the mystery really got going and I was trying to figure out what had really happened to Moira Prince. Miss Timmins’ School for Girls is a great mystery novel as well as an interesting cultural study and intimate love story.

Rating:

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This entry was posted by Carina on Saturday, July 9th, 2011 at 10:53 pm and is filed under reviews . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Comments

  1. Amy says:

    Phew I’m glad it turned out to be an at least decent representation of a lesbian relationship!

  2. I can’t decide if it is sad or hilarious that you always thought of boarding schools as a place you’d go if your parents got really mad! LOL

    I’m glad you got into the mystery aspect of the book. Thanks for being on the tour.

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