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The Hill Station by J. G. Farrell
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The Hill Station (1981)

by J. G. Farrell

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I really liked this piece of fiction from colonial India. It paints an intriguing picture of the life of the British officer in the 'hill stations' of India. It gives insights into colonial practices and the intentions behind them. Also thrown in is a bit of religion, the practice of proselytisation and the arrival of the memsahibs. ( )
  milti | Dec 14, 2011 |
I hadn’t realized when I bought this book that it was the one Farrell was writing when he drowned. So, as the editor says, it’s left in medias res or some such expression. While McNab makes an appearance again, I found this quite different n tone to his other novels in that it didn’t have the same jocular commentary I’d found earlier where the author’s wry sense of humour came through. Instead we have a fairly serious and our McNab along with an immature, snobbish Emily, a self-indulgent bishop (actually a promising character, one who delights in winning arm-wrestles and croquet against young curates) and an over-earnest Rev. Kingston who believes in the rituals of the Church, bringing it dangerously close to Catholicism according to most of his (ex-) congregation.

McNab’s belief that something to do with morality underlies sickness reminds us of the state of medicine then, but we are meant, I think, to have respect for this doctor, partly because there’s no one else really on whom to bestow it. His interest in the internal warfare in Kingston’s church, though, seems a little odd from an unbeliever. True, he sees its absurdity but it’s odd that it holds his attention. Farrell draws attention to what an imperfect world it is when we have a hedonistic bishop at odds with a devout clergyman who nevertheless seems delusional in the way he clings to his beliefs in the ceremonies of the Church. With Emily a main character, I felt a bit more distanced from the book. I’d have liked more of Farrell’s wit in dealing with her delusions. Maybe that’s what connects everything in this novel – the way all are propelled by their delusions, great and small. ( )
  evening | Jul 15, 2011 |
This was the book J.G. Farrell was working on at the time of his death. Farrell revisits the India of The Siege of Krishnapur, and there is a connection between the two books in the character of the doctor, McNab. McNab arrives at the hill station in Kalka with his wife and niece.

Unlike in his Empire Trilogy, there is no young man entering a bewildering new world, both geographically and romantically, here it is Emily, fresh from England. The issue of class is here, especially when Emily realises her social standing could have been compromised by her friendship with Mrs. Forester, a lady who is being snubbed because of scandal.
Another new theme is that of religion, here the battle between a stricter Protestant church and one that has chosen to follow older ceremonies has caused the former to accuse the latter of moving towards Rome. The ridiculousness of the situation is shown well here.

The second part of the book is made of three contributions, the first of which looks at the notes that the author left which give us an idea as to how the novel would have progressed, and the author's own diary of his time in India. ( )
1 vote soffitta1 | Jun 18, 2010 |
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Nowadays the railway goes all the way up to Simla, but before the turn of the century it stopped at Kalka.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0297779222, Hardcover)

To the cool of the Simla hills comes a reluctant Dr McNab, with his wife and young niece. For Emily, romance is in the air. For the mysterious Mrs Forester, there is scandal brewing. And for the Bishop of Simla, rainclouds are not the only storms on the horizon' The Hill Station is the novel on which J.G. Farrell was working at the time of his tragically early accidental death. It demonstrates powerfully what a great loss to world literature this was.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:08 -0400)

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