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Rich Like Us

By (author) Nayantara Sahgal
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Cornerstone, London, United Kingdom
Imprint: William Heinemann Ltd
Published: 20th May 1985
Dimensions: w 140mm h 220mm
ISBN-10: 0434666106
ISBN-13: 9780434666102
Barcode No: 9780434666102

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Kirkus US
A witty, occasionally touching, intermittently heavily messaged scrutiny of the varying accommodations of a small Indian power elite - "the tiny wee handful of aunts and uncles who all know each other and who are in charge of everything" - in the days when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was at the apex of what the author considers her most tyrannical supremacy. Young civil-servant Sonali - Oxford-educated like her friend Ravi - ponders her Indian/Western identity: "We had the West coming at us since our great-grandfather's time, while all we knew of our culture were the droplets that had managed to seep in through osmosis." Increasingly depressed by the corruption in high places, Sonali finds refreshing - and lovable - the company of cockney Rose, established in a wealthy Indian household, who has the uncanny ability to "hit rotten nails on the head." Now scarlet-haired at 63, Rose had, years ago, married Ram, a merchant in art objects and fine cloth (his tough old sire had founded the family business with mule caravans). Was it fate or just plain curiosity that brought Rose to India - and to a household including Ram's first wife, Mona, and baby son Dev? Now, Rose - fat, unpretentious - continues to find strength within the hapless, and innocently pricks hypocrisy. Rose once saved Mona's life and became her friend, and weathered, with both gloom and amusement, Ram's infatuation with that flower of English aristocracy, Marcella ("whose upper-class accent could spend ten minutes ballet-dancing around two words"). In the present, with his father Ram in a terminal coma, the grown Dev is busily engaged in theft and corrupt misdoings (encouraged by the administration). Within the circle of family and friends, others - past and present - have engaged in the mechanics of survival or (futile) gestures of rebellion. A crippled beggar tells tales of horror; an elderly man chooses a probably fatal term in jail; while Ravi weighs commitments on the road to freedom. At the close, Sonali, mourning the violent death of Rose, searches through India's history - both evils and strengths - for the core of rugged spiritual continuities. A very accessible view of an (undoubtedly simplified) Indian political stance, with a certain stylistic facility, humor, and some touching portraits. (Kirkus Reviews)