Unabridged Chick

I'm Audra, a 30-something married lesbian. I love interesting heroines, gorgeous prose, place as character, and the occasional werewolf.
Miss Timmins' School for Girls - Nayana Currimbhoy Even though there is a murder mystery that is central to the novel, I actually found Miss Timmins' School for Girls to be an engrossing kind of coming of age story, following 20-year old Charulata Apte as she struggles to discover the woman she is, be it a bellbottom-wearing hippie in Bombay or simply a graceful beauty like her mother. Charu occupies that awkward place where one feels (and should be) grown up and yet, feels (and often behaves) childishly.  As she leaves her parents for her first job as a teacher at a boarding school, her life turns especially tumultuous and confusing when a white teacher is murdered and she's involved.Currimbhoy creates an evocative setting in the British all-girls school in rural Panchgani, especially the fishbowl living between students and teachers. Secrets and scandals -- large or small -- constantly threaten to be exposed, and the confusing mix of hormones, isolation, and differing social classes create an explosive brew.  Reading, I was reminded very much of other British school fiction from The History Boys to Notes on a Scandal: What Was She Thinking? to the St. Trinian's series. In fact, literature and popular culture play a huge role in this novel, from the iconic music of the late '60s and early '70s as the soundtrack for Charu's social life to books by Nabokov (shocking and daring), Enid Blyton (the aspiration of the school), or William Golding (what the schoolgirls are really like).  As I measure my own life in music and books, this really struck a chord with me and added a sense of realism to the story and gave me a place to empathize with Charu. I found I liked all the characters and found their stories compelling; the novel is long (and perhaps a little too long at moments) but I enjoyed the way the various story lines played out and were resolved, and I had no problem keeping everyone straight.  From the trio of mischievous students who set out to solve the mystery to Charu's extended family (and the drama that came with them), there was a feast of tensions that gave Charu and this novel the oomph that made it more than murder mystery.  I recommend this book for a long trip, when you've got many nights available to curl up and read (and don't mind waiting until the very end for the mystery to be solved!).