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4.2 out of 5 stars13
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 20 May 2007
One of the most beautiful books I've read in a long time. A lovely, simple story of a man's quest for love. Raman is portrayed in a certain way that dubs down his personality. He is personified as a meekest of men, a humble 'painter of signs'. And yet what lies beneath is a very passionate man - with a strong desire to produce the highest quality in his artwork but also to capture the heart of an independent, driven woman.

The story focuses on Raman's ongoing relationship with his elderly aunt and his blossoming friendship with Daisy. Indeed the story deals with a number of issues regarding family culture at its time - and the sacrifices pressed on the main characters.

The book presents a wonderful development of a humble man's life. The end of the story is touching. If one message is clear in this lovely book its that you should be very careful what you wish for in life.

The book warrants 5 stars on all fronts - story, prose, discourses, setting and the final outcome.

I would without a doubt recommend this book to anyone who prefers a frank and honest read. If you want to be read a humble yet humourous little story, this is it.
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This bittersweet novel is as fresh and charming today as it was when originally published in 1976. Telling the story of Raman, a conscientious sign-painter, who is trying to lead a rational life, the novel is filled with busy neighborhood life and gossip, the alternating rhythms and sounds of the city from morning till night, and the pungent smells and tantalizing flavors of home cooking, as Narayan portrays everyday life in Malgudi. The city is growing and changing, as its inhabitants try to carve out some individual successes within the juggernaut of "progress."
Raman, a college graduate, brings a sense of professionalism to his sign-painting, taking pride in his calligraphy and trying to create exactly the right sign, artistically, for each client. Living with his aged aunt, a devout, traditional woman whose days are spent running the house and tending to her nephew’s needs and whose evenings are spent at the temple listening to the old stories and praying, Raman prefers a rational approach to life. Then he meets Daisy. A young woman devoted to improving the lives of women and the standard of living of the country through strict family planning, Daisy becomes his biggest customer, commissioning signs for all the family planning clinics she helps establish through the city and outlying rural areas. Ram soon finds his attraction to Daisy more powerful than this desire to remain "rational."
Narayan is a master of domestic scenes, presenting the major and minor conflicts of family life through the different points of view of the participants. Respect for his characters and a good-humored (and often humorous) presentation of their issues give warmth to his scenes and allow the reader to feel real empathy with the characters. Raman’s belief in his own rational enlightenment and his simultaneous vulnerability to Daisy’s manipulations provide the author with unlimited opportunities for dramatic irony. Scenes between Ram and his devout, elderly aunt provide a glimpse of the conflicts between old and new India, in addition to the generational conflicts every family faces between its young and its old. Scenes between Ram and Daisy reflect the changes in the role of women in society, as women become more assertive and liberated. Though he is presented as a unique, individualized character, Ram, the painter of signs, is, in a sense, Everyman, facing his coming-of-age as all men before him have done in cultures around the world. Only the details (and the sights, and sounds, and smells) are different.
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on 29 March 2010
This is another of R K Narayan's brilliant pieces of fiction. He really has a gift for capturing small town life as it really is in India.

This particular book is a slim volume and a bittersweet look at an ordinary man living his life and falling in love. The main character really is rather endearing, though at times you feel frustrated about the way he behaves! The perfect way to read this book is on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Take your time and let this wonderful evocation of small-town India wash over you.
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on 28 August 2011
I bought this book when travelling in Nepal, slim, easy to carry, but it was its title that caught my eye. (My late father was signwriter.) Raman is past 30 and sharing a house with his elderly aunt who took him under her care when he was orphaned as a small child. Only near the end of the tale when Raman realises all the unspoken duties his aunt has done for him throughout his life, does he begin to appreciate it and think of how things will change if she is no longer there.

Raman has a collection of regular customers for his artistry and he rides around the town ddrumming up business from them until he is taken out of his comfort zone by miss Daisy. She is modern India rampant. A strident evangelist for birth control and preventing population growth. She takes Raman off with her on a village tour to plan a new signboard campaign. It is a great challenge for him because he is obsessed with her and has fantasised constantly about getting close to her, 'chatting her up', and getting married etc. But he is so shy...

This is a brief and simple story, simply but well told, which holds the attention. As another reviewer has written, it is a bitter sweet story and when I got to the end I wasn't sure whether to feel sad or glad at the conclusion.
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on 25 November 2010
A beautiful, simply told story that conjours up the sights and sounds of a small town in the midst of change. Ah Raman! What a wonderful character! Torn between the competing demands of his traditional mother and the progressive demanding Daisy. It might seem perverse to compare him to Dostoevsky's unnamed Underground man, but he really does seem to be part of the same dynamic. A passionate, intelligent man whose education has seperated him from the social world within which he finds himself within. Where Dostoevsky is trapped by his circumstances, living within a heightened expessionistic world, Narayan's sublte comedy finds a solution for Raman by, as Monical Ali's helpfull and perceptive introduction makes clear, opening him out to a reception of the world where he is no longer able to judge, but must accept and can be a part of. It's a subtle and hopefull celebration of the communal world, as represented by the small town of Malgudi. A wonderful little book.
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on 8 August 2011
Too often these days we see novels trying to be oh so clever. This is not one of's a story in the original sense of the word - brilliantly written, moving, sweet and gentle. I loved every page and will add it to my list of books to read again as it's a small volume and is well worth looking over on a rainy, winter's day.....
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This is the first time I have ever come across the work of R. K. Narayan, but I will be making an effort to find more of it. This novella, based in a fictional Indian town, and dealing with the dramas of the life of Raman, a sign painter and his complex and tragi-comic love affair with the politically dynamic and obsessive Daisy is charming, beautifully written and really compelling.

Narayan evokes the sleepy rhythmns and small dramas of life perfectly with poetic, well chosen phrases, and although his dramas are the small ones of everyday life, you still find yourself, as the reader, deeply engaged in the trials of the characters he depicts. He has a perfect gift for spotting the character flaws that trip us up, that expose us as weak and that also make us more loveable as people.
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on 13 February 2003
Narayan mixes the themes of love, literacy and population control in this unusual take on boy-meets-girl storyline. India’s society seems to hustle and bustle as Narayan brings it to life, the characters, especially the ones Raman meets at the beginning of his story- the lawyer and the bracelet seller are illustrations of life drawn with a sharp eye for the flaws and habits of the individual.
Narayan juxtaposes old and new India in the characters of Raman’s aunt and Daisy. Raman’s aunt constantly harkens back to her grandfather’s days of concubines and she is obsessed with housework. Daisy is passionate about spreading the message of child prevention to the overpopulated countryside. Both however have many similarities in personality and their final desertion of Raman. They show how new India might have different ideas to the old way but underneath there is little difference. Even without their hidden meaning both Daisy and Raman’s aunt are wonderful characters and only second to Raman (despite a dubious idea towards rape).
This is both a wonderful novel for fictions sake but also a fantastic study on the attempts the family planning organisation in the 1970’s made to try to convince a religious and fatalistic society to start to control their own destinies and the individuals (such as Daisy) who were dedicated to this cause.
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on 21 February 2010
Narayan's imaginary town of Malgudi was a huge influence on Alexander McCall Smith and his fans will enjoy these Indian stories.
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on 6 January 2016
Rated 'used in very good condition' but book was clearly not examibed by the rater:
annotated extensively (pencil, block caps)
front and back covers bent-
back cover had corner torn off-
pages yellow....
Extensively used but in very bad condition!
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