p. 94 “No wonder I felt I was swimming underwater. Not only had the missionaries created a British boarding school in this corner of India, they had even managed to create the Victorian boarding school of their own childhoods.”
This book was especially poignant to me as I teach in a private school, all-boys, rather than all-girls; in the United States, not India. Yet despite these major differences, the importance of this work of fiction by Nayana Currimbhoy, lies with relationships, not plot lines. Regarding her story, the author accomplishes a complex setting with characters that vary, if not in gender a great deal, in personalities. Some are strong; others, fragile; most are fluid as the story line – part mystery & part historical fiction – they evolve. Read this review if you would like more detail. I have opinions, but do not come close to experiences or intellectual background to make a judgement from the perspective of a young Indian woman.
My experiences, primarily as a teacher-librarian in said school, stem from this. Relationships. Youth. Always changing – some friendships will stand many decades of life’s challenges and trials; other will fade before the end of the year. Tears. Arms around one another. I see my students in their friendships daily. So present and visceral. One minute my heart is assured by their immediate ability to respond to the present with full honesty; another, my heart breaks at their inability to withhold words that injure the other.
This is what resonates for me in Currimbhoy’s world of Miss Timmins. She has captured an ephemeral one that is fleeting, but core to every young person.
Currimbhoy, Nayana. Miss Timmins’ School for Girls: a novel. New York: HarperCollins, 2011. Print.