A TIME TO BE HAPPY by Nayantara Sahgal


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This is Mrs. Sahgal's second book and first novel. It is not much as a novel, but when you get past the creaking of the plot and the sticky transitions from one place and time to another, it is quite an interesting picture of the attitudes of various kinds of upper class Indians as India approached freedom and just after it became an independent state. Centering mostly on the Shivpals, a rich, English-educated family, it can find within the group examples of the old-fashioned, contemplative man- devoted to enjoying his life and the arts; the over Anglicized businessman; the younger, English-influenced man who feels guilty at not being able to be a part of the new movement; the old-style wife, devoted to bringing order to the life of her family; and the wife with an empty marriage who devotes her energies to the new movement. Besides these, the narrator, a rich son who gives up his father's business to follow Gandhi, shows the attitudes of the leading businessmen, all British, who in colonial India found themselves the aristocracy and in independent India suddenly found themselves sharing the Club swimming pool with the new, dark-skinned rulers of the country. The things that save this book from stodginess are a fine sense of humor and of irony, which makes points with ease and grace, and a feeling that this is much the way things were. This latter authority is natural since Mrs. Sahgal is the daughter of Mme. Pandit and the niece of Nehru.

Publisher: Knopf