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Miss Timmins' School for Girls

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3.0 of 5 stars 3.00  ·  rating details  ·  857 ratings  ·  196 reviews
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 I
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Paperback, 496 pages
Published June 21st 2011 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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Ann
It's 1974. Charu has just been hired to teach at Miss Timmins' School for Girls. She is a first-time teacher, nearly as young and impressionable as her students.

Moira Prince also teaches at Miss Timmins'. She is unorthodox, a bit older, worldly, and troubled. Miss Prince, nicknamed Pin, has a mysterious connection with the school's director, and seems to have cast a spell on Charu, who becomes deeply involved with her and the group of bohemians who are her friends.

One night, Pin seems especially
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Lisa
This book was selected for our lib book club which meets in two days. I loooooved the last book we read (Beautiful Ruins). I can't say the same about this one. I must divulge that I only read 130 pages. I can tell you that those 130 pages were read painstakingly in 5 page increments. It was ever so slow and tedious. From those 130 pages, I can't really find anything good about this book. The characters were flat. The writing was atrocious. The plot was lacking. Do things turn around on page 131? ...more
Siria
Currimbhoy needs to work on her pacing and the subtlety of her plotting a little, but for a debut novel this was really surprisingly good. She has a talent for character sketches and for creating a strong narrative voice. I found the world she created—an isolated girls' boarding school in western India during the 1970s, a lingering outpost of British colonialism where the students learn Scottish dancing and are required to wear elasticated bloomers—engrossing and would have loved to see even mor ...more
Ellie
Apr 03, 2011 Ellie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fiction & mystery fans
Miss Timmins School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy.
I loved this book. It's hard to believe it's a debut novel. My worst criticism was that I found it a little long and that it occasionally dragged a bit. On the other hand, I loved it so much, part of me wanted it to last even longer!

The story takes place in a boarding school in India, where upper class girls mix with British missionaries and rock and roll, drugs, and other influences of the time-it is the mid 1970's and the times, well, they tru
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marymurtz
I expected this book to be a whodunnit set in India in 1974; the description seemed to indicate a boarding-school book set in a time of social upheaval.

What I didn't expect was such an intense and complicated set of characters, the clash of Indian caste culture with British boarding-school rules.

Charu Apte is a Brahmin girl who graduates from college and wants to be a teacher. Her parents reluctantly agree because they know the prospects for her to marry are slim to none, due to a disfiguring
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Audra (Unabridged Chick)
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 ...more
Michael
This is one of the rare novels when I reread the prologue multiple of times. I am not sure what my intentions were, probably to find some substance or trying to have patience to read through the loopholes. After debating on giving this book a two or three,I went with a three. The plot described was about a murder that took place, a woman teaching a class is connected too it and the story talks about the repercussions. Sadly that is the only thing that I can say about it, it was not anything wort ...more
Caseythecanadianlesbrarian
Miss Timmins’ School for Girls, by Nayana Currimbhoy, might be described as a mystery, a classic whodunit murder story. But it can also equally be called a romance, a coming of age story, and an historical novel set in 1970s India. It’s perhaps because this book is all those things and more that makes it such a successful, entertaining read.

Don’t start Miss Timmins’ School for Girls right before you go to bed, because this is a book that sucks you in immediately with a flash forward to the deat
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Nancy Brisson
Miss Timmins’ School for Girls: A Novel by Nayana Currimbhoy is a little slice of England in the midst of India. We all know that India was once an English colony, at least in the minds of the British and many of us realize that a certain Anglophile strand runs through India culture. So some Indian parents still send their daughters and sons to fairly genuine or genuinely pseudo English boarding schools to get some polish and learn English. This particular school, Miss Timmins’ School for Girls, ...more
Zen
Feb 10, 2013 Zen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Miss Timmins' School for Girls is a fictional boarding school located amongst the scenic hills and volcanic plateaus of Panchgani (lit. five volcanoes) in the state of Maharashtra, India. What makes Timmins stand out from the other local schools is that it used to be an all-white school for climate-sensitive British girls who couldn't stand the heat. Now, in 1974, it's an exclusive school for rich Indian girls whose families want them to have an authentic British education. It's at the brink of ...more
Richard Brand
I got tired of this book about page 300 and had another 189 pages to go to finish. It is a mystery story. It is a social development story. It is a coming of age story. It is about a young woman with a birth mark that was born into a "fallen" family in India. It is about a British boarding school for girls in India in the l970's. It is about young girls trying to find love, trying to be accepted, trying to find their place. It probably is trying to be too many things. I also could not tell if it ...more
Anna-karin
Well, if you like coming-of-age stories that imply that coming of age necessitates drugs and selfish sexuality, you will be in for a treat. Also, if you enjoy an inconsistent writing style and a confusing, hopeless ending, you will love this book. In case I haven't been clear enough, I hated this book and threw it down at the end with the frustration of the lack of redemption that came at the end of the book. Ugh.
Nell
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Diane Ferbrache
It's 1974 and Charulata Apte has just arrived at her new home -- a boarding school for girls in a small town in India. Because of some scandal in her father's past and a birthmark (she calls it a "blot") on her face, she is not particularly sought after as a wife. So the job at an boarding school seems like a great idea. She makes friends with some of the teachers, but because she is from a lower caste and not English she is regarded with some disdain by most. Until she is befriended by Pin, a t ...more
Laurie
A worthwhile read! This book has great depth - much more than I expected. I picked it up while browsing bookstore shelves and it was promoted as a mystery novel and also as a coming of age story. It is both, but to use either description limits this quiet gem. The mystery itself is predictable, and I don't think it is meant to be anything more than a sturdy structure from which to drape the rest of the novel. The narrative is shifting and moody and wonderfully descriptive. The characters - even ...more
Michelle
Miss Timmins' School for Girls is quite misleading. I was expecting an interesting coming-of-age story that just happens to take place in India. Instead, I found a complex novel of which a personal journey of discovery is only one small part of the overall plot. There is murder, love, intrigue, family secrets, and the ties that bind it all together. Combined with the always-fascinating backdrop of India, the result is an intriguing and seductive novel about the damage secrets can do to others an ...more
Lydia Presley
Let me just say that last year I may have overdosed a bit on books set in India. Some were good, some were bad, but overall they seemed to have the same melancholy, morose feel to them and I promised myself I'd lay off of them for a while.

Then I signed up for this tour. My first thought was, great, here we go again, but then I picked up the book and started reading and realized this was unlike any story set in India I'd read thus far.

The story of Charu was interesting enough - but add into the m
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Dolly
This book was selected by my local library's book club as its April 2012 read. I read it early so I could return the book quickly; I'm hoping that more people will choose to join our group.

This is a very strange book. It's a mystery wrapped in a veil of social commentary of the 1970s in India. I'm sure it will often get shelved in a lesbian/bisexual category, but I think it's more about love and growing up during those times. I categorize it as historical fiction, although since I grew up in th
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Ariel
This book was similar in a way to a book I just read, In Search of the Rose Notes. Both were coming of age type stories set against the back drop of a mystery. In this case the book takes place in India in the 1970's. As another reviewer noted the book tends to drag on. The characters engaged in a lot of behavior I could not relate to and I was disengaged from them, not really caring what their fate was. I also did not care for the ambiguous ending. After sticking this book out for five hundred ...more
Daisy
Nov 29, 2011 Daisy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Daisy by: on Siria's shelf
3.8 stars. I liked my time spent reading this. It's less a mystery than an atmospheric (for lack of a better word) tale of a world I've never read about before: India, 1974, girls' boarding school. But there are familiar, touching themes as well of daughter/mother, daughter/father relationships, first love, awakening. coming-of-age (though, again, in 1974 India), secrets. Oh, and the rain.

Pretty cover, huh?


Merch held the view that the only reality was fiction. "This includes, of course, movies a
...more
Helen Bookwoods
This quite long novel set in India in the 1970s is an odd mixture of boarding school story, murder mystery and coming of age story of young, inexperienced teacher Charu.

Twenty-something Charu who was born with a disfiguring birthmark on her face she calls a ‘blot’ takes a job teaching at a girls’ boarding school in Panchgani, a high scenic area a few hours out of Bombay. She is inexperienced but wins over some of the girls with her teaching of Macbeth, but soon she comes under the sway of a whit
...more
Kavya T
The blurb sounded so promising, but what an utter disappointment this book was. Plodding pace, a plethora of inconsequential characters and above all this, a lead character I just could'nt sympathise with.
Young Charulatha Apte joins a boarding school for girls which is stuck in a colonial time warp, in the hills. There she meets and befriends the local bad seed and teacher Moira Prince, and through her she rapidly spirals into an alternate universe of drugs, sex and craziness. It is not clear e
...more
Kanchan Shine
I picked up the book for it's mysterious title. The book has 3 parts..

Part 1: I must admit, finishing the first part was difficult...I read it wondering, when the story would move ahead, and was only glad when I reached Part 2. Part 1 focuses on bringing out the personalities of the characters, but I think it was stretched.

Part 2: This part gets interesting and is a page turner; loved reading the adventures of the boarding school girls. I have never lived in boarding or hostel, but I could relat
...more
Colleen Shaw
Interesting story. Decent character development. Good sense of place. strange choices in terms of sharing details...some times there seemed to be too much detail and the story really dragged, but sometimes you felt you had missed something because the writing became much less direct. overall a pleasant read.
Beth
I picked up this book expecting a murder mystery, but, as other reviewers have stated, it is much more than that. The actual murder does not occur until roughly half way through the book, and by that time, I had already become fully engrossed in the characters and the juxtaposition between 1970's "drugs, sex and rock and roll" culture in a town in India and the strict, conservative atmosphere of a girls' boarding school located near by. The author also throws in traditional Indian culture, issue ...more
Candice
I tried and tried to get into this. I generally love books set in India, but this was lacking. I didn't care about the characters, and the story seemed to drag on and on and on.
Diane
Charu Apte is a first year teacher at a boarding school for girls set in a remote area of India. Barely out of college, Charu hopes to work just long enough to make enough money to go back to Bombay and start her adult life away from the secrets her family seems to carry as a constant burden. Soon after her arrival at the school several things happen; she falls in love, is embroiled in the center of a murder mystery, and her mother tries to commit suicide. The story told in several voices, somet ...more
Stefanie
The premise of this novel is a fairly common one ... there's a suspicious death at a boarding school in India and several characters are suspected of murder. The school, situated in a remote area of the country in a small village, is a microcosm of the aftermath of colonialism. Most of the teachers are British women who came to India long ago and never left; the students are divided into three unofficial groups: British, Indian, or both. There's a constant theme of how painful it can be to feel ...more
Iris
This book took me a good while to finish, and now that I finally have finished it, I can't say that I was completely rewarded by my persistence. The story is told chronologically in three sections, first and last by Charu the protagonist, and the middle section from the point of view of a group of schoolgirls who attend the school where Charu teaches. The first section was painful and dragged on and on - I think it took me over a year to get through it. I was on the verge of giving up when the s ...more
Elizabeth B
I was so thrilled to receive this book as it encompassed all of the things I love most in novels: far flung locales, a hint of mystery, a splash of romance. And while the book did have all these things, it did not leave me with the immersive experience I had hope for. Take as a whole, the book could have been epic in proportion. So many plotlines and characters could have meshed together to make a novel of “Historian” type proportions. However, the novel was either cut down in editing or the aut ...more
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“I really knew nothing about the dancing habits of the Scottish. But I wanted to help. "I could teach them Indian folk dances," I offered, scrounging my mind for school dances in gaudy garments.

"Well, I'm not sure that they would be complex enough for competitions," she said. Pursing her lips, she blushed a dark, deep red. I knew I had said something wrong, but it took me a few days to understand the reason for Miss Manson's disapproval and discomfort. She blushed a beetroot red because I had unwittingly questioned the core belief of the school: British was Better.”
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“It's the standard-issue Indian male syndrome. Mothers and sisters on a pedestal on the one hand, and loose women and prostitutes below the boot on the other. And me, a good Marathi girl like his sisters, consorting with all of you wastrels and worse. Too confusing for him.” 0 likes
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