My Photo













Cornflower book group

« This and that | Main | The old curiosity shop »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Dark Puss

I was less impressed than you were dear Cornflower! I think this book might have benefitted from the "red pen of the editor" and been a moderately enjoyable short story. I certainly didn't feel that it warranted nearly 150 pages. No doubt I have overlooked all those subtle details that made it a much more positive experience for you. It was good on the parochialism of a small town and its inhabitants and I think the frustration that Raman and Daisy felt for each others vision of life (and their limited visions) was well handled. You, and the "blurb" writers of my copy both mention humour, indeed the word "funny" is used. I didn't find it a funny book at all. I thought it dealt with some important issues, overpopulation and the need to empower and educate women, and I was rather glad that the writer didn't engineer a "happy ending" for the main protagonists. I thought Daisy's insight into the freedom that her relationship and moving in with Raman granted his Aunt, now released from years of devoted familial servitude, was a good piece of writing.

I'll not be seeking out this author again, but of course if CBG return to it, via the short stories perhaps, I will of course be happy to re-engage.

My overall conclusion is that is wasn't a patch on the Hemingway; now if this had come after the dreadful Diary of a Nobody then my view might have been a little more positive!

Susie Vereker

Cornflower, I enjoyed it, and I'll probably read it again eventually to savour the descriptions of Indian small town life. Thank you for recommending it. Like Dark Puss, I regarded it as a slow-moving tragedy than a comedy. I feared Raman would never be able to divert Daisy from her path. It was so sad when she didn't notice the new hotplate. I read the first half on the train and found it hard to concentrate as it didn't always entirely hold my attention, charming though it was. Yes, I did like Raman's serious attitude to the painting of each letter, and the impact of each colour.
He would have had strong views about modern typography, I reckon. Though bought only a couple of weeks ago, the Penguin edition I read has very small print, more like an 1970s paperback. Made me appreciate how lucky we are these days that most books are so well produced.

Susie Vereker

I wish one could edit comments. I meant 'rather than a comedy.' I'm always in a rush on Saturday mornings.


I enjoyed "The Painter of Signs" much more than I thought. It took me a while to get into the book, in fact I actually thought if I was sitting on a train for a few hours I might be able to settle to it more. However, once I had slowed down to the pace of Malgudi I enjoyed the descriptions of Ramon's life and work. Like you Cornflower, I was charmed by the pride Ramon had in his work. I did not think it a comedy , but there were times I was smiling to myself. To be honest I found the single mindedness of Daisy really annoying and felt Ramon was well rid of her. I wouldn't mind reading more by Narayan.

Susan in TX

Cornflower, I'm with you. I found parts of this book to be very funny. I think I had Raman pictured in my mind as a sort of Roberto Benigni character (esp. his role in Life is Beautiful) as he was trying to win Daisy's affection. It was comic all the way up to the ending. I, too, was hoping that Daisy would relent, and I couldn't help but feel that Raman would haunt her for years to come as she might always wonder "what if" down the road. What Daisy defined as "freedom" struck me more as "selfishness." Some of the most unhappy people I've ever met are people who live only for themselves with no consideration for anyone else, and that's how Daisy struck me -- destined to be forever unhappy in her self-deceit.
While I could go either way on reading Narayan again, I did enjoy this one.


I began this book with enthusiasm but, unfortunately, it didn't hold my attention entirely.The start was promising , then my attention wavered, to pick up again towards the end.
Important issues were raised and I did find it amusing from time to time. But, for me, not a satisfying read although it's always good to be introduced to an unfamiliar writer.I rather suspect that I won't be tempted to read another Narayan novel.
Perhaps it came too soon for me after such an enjoyable book as the Steinbeck!


I too started with enthusiasm and found my enjoyment waning as I continued to read. I'm not totally sure what went wrong for me but I think it might be that I did not find the characters really believable and I failed to connect with them. The descriptions of India and the portraying of the atmoshpere were a high point but it did not seem to be enough to compensate.

I find have not reccommended the book to my friends (the acid test!).

But I remain a convert to this method of finding unexplored genres & authors & I have already ordered 'The Debt to Pleasure' for next month.

Barbara MacLeod

I did not know this author and was pleased to start with this particular novel. I liked it! It's a charming book; a pleasant, easy read when I was in the space for just such a book. The author is a great observer of human behaviour. I liked his attention to detail which made it easy to imagine the scenes and relate to the characters.

The description of the bangle-seller resonated with me. Some years ago I occasionally bought a newspaper from a corner newsagent. I began to notice that the gentleman used to take overly long pouring the change (coins) into my hand, i.e. dragging his fingers slowly along the length my outstretched palm .... Shades of the bangle-seller!

Dark Puss

It is indeed an excellent technique! Let me also recommend the random selection of a book from your local public library. Often they go back after a couple of chapters, but then you haven't paid directly so so immediate financial loss. I have found some wonderful books this way (and some total rubbish!).

Black-hearted Cat


I enjoyed The Painter of Signs more than most folks seem to have. Raman's world was so clearly drawn that I was drawn into it immediately and cared about him. Additionally, the issues that were examined in the book were surprising - birth control and the place of women in India. I was in India for a few months during the early 70s and I think that added to my pleasure in the book. For me, the book was a very satisfying read.

Mr Cornflower

My first Narayan. Deft and appealing but I suspect that it will take a little more reading to work him out; I enjoyed his evocation of the sense of place and the dynamics of the relationship between the two protagonists but I can see what DP is getting at (I think), it's as if he's running out of paint and stretching it a bit thin at times.

Dark Puss

Yes you saw exactly what I was getting at, but put it much more elegantly!


I thought the book had some charm, and that I might try some of Narayan's other work, but I didn't feel riveted by it. I'm glad I read it though.


Again I am glad to have come to an unfamiliar (to me) author through the Cornflower reading quest. I enjoyed The Painter of Signs but I doubt that I would seek out another Narayan work. I found the whimsical depictions of the various characters amusing and with their own idiosyncracies but underlying these were the serious issues facing India. Does Raman represent traditional and conservative Indian values and Daisy more modern and progressive trends?
I liked the fact that Daisy pursues her own destiny and doesn't feel it necessary to bind herself in a formal arrangement to Raman yet is not afraid to explore her desires. The 70s was a decade when such issues were readily discussed and debated e.g. the publication of The Female Eunuch and the swag of novels by such authors as Fay Weldon etc.
Another interesting and thought-provoking monthly read from Cornflower!


Sadly I read this book too long ago to participate except to say that I remember little of it, which is not a good sign, though I certainly didn't dislike it either. I do love your, "an Indian Camberwick Green for grown-ups!" comment however!


My favorite character in this book must be the Aunt. As the author allowed her to develop slowly, I only wished she had a bigger part, or possibly her own book. I found her the most sympathetic character by far. I do like an author who allows the reader to use whatever intelligence one can muster up to fill in the blanks. however, I found Daisy to be quite unappealing and I cannot bring myself to trust a guy who is able to justify rape. Daisy is well rid of him. And on the other hand, he would never have been happy with her. The comedy is that neither of these people has ever seen what the other is really like.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


Please note

  • Sidebar book cover thumbnail pictures are affiliate links to Amazon, and the storefront links to Blackwell's and The Book Depository are also affiliated; should you purchase a book directly through those links, I will receive a small commission. Older posts may also contain affiliate links to one of those bookshops. I am not paid to produce content and all opinions are my own.

A request

  • If you wish to use any original images or content from this site, please contact me.

The Book Depository

  • Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Cornflower Book Group: read



Statcounter 2

  • Statcounter 2