Books, Reading, Review
Comments 7

A Suitable Boy

After about eighty-five days and being side tracked by other books in that time, I finally finished the chunky book that has been the bane of my existence recently. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth is a monster of a read. At over 1400 pages with the smallest print possible, this is definitely not a book that you want to be carrying around in your bag for too long, unless you have the details for a good chiropractor.

Set in India in the 1950’s, we see the country not too long after it’s independence from the British Empire. It is a country that is still building it’s identity on the world stage, but still holds to the traditions that it has had for as far as back as it’s

 memory goes. We meet Lata, nineteen years old and at college and with no ideas of marriage in her mind. Her widowed mother, however, has different ideas and when she finds out that Lata has been seeing a boy that is the most unsuitable of all, she begins the search for a suitable boy for her youngest daughter, much to the despair of Lata.

I found the search for the husband to be the most entertaining aspect of this book. Any moments involving to Lata and her extended family were easy to be drawn into. But when the book took it’s political turn – as it was bound to, being set in such a political time for India – I found my attention wavering, hence the amount of time taken to read it (if you’ve ever read War and Peace you’ll know what I mean). I didn’t find the political side of the book completely uninteresting. Every book I have read recently relating to India at this time in it’s history, has had a large political aspect and I did learn a lot that I didn’t know before. But when comparing this side of the book to the family orientated parts, is like comparing a black and white image, to one bursting with colour. The politics in the book was drab and boring, while family life was peppered with so many ups and downs accompanying characters that were so vastly different from one another, that it was impossible for me not to skip over pages of political speeches, in favour of reading the latest family drama.

I’m really not sure what else I can say about this book. I started reading it so long ago that I barely remember the beginning and I was so relieved once I had finished it that I just wanted to get it out of my mind. But the strangest thing is, is that I will probably read it again. There’s a small quote from The Times on the front cover of the edition I have, that says, “Make time for it. It will keep you company for the rest of your life.” I think that it probably will.

RATING – 7 out of 10. If it had been a book purely on life situated in the home and around family, then I definitely would have given it a ten.

WHO SHOULD READ IT – If you got through War and Peace, you can get through this. If you didn’t mind Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, or The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, you will probably enjoy this as well, as they are set around the same period of time.

WHO YOU’LL LOVE – my favourite character by far was Maan Kapoor. It was lovely watching his character grow and change throughout the course of the book.

FAVOURITE QUOTE – I marked a page about halfway through the book, meaning there was something on here that I really enjoyed as I read it. After reading the page again, I can’t remember what I liked (as it was so many pages ago), but there’s a sort of poem on that page, so I think that must be it.

ASuitableBoy Quote

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7 Comments

  1. This is the book I wish to be buried with.

    It blew me away when I read. It became such a big part of my life, they felt like my own family, and to this day – over 12 yrs later – I still think about Lata and wonder what she’s up to.

    I hope to have time to reread it one day – apparently Seth is writing the sequel – A Suitable Girl – but keeps pushing back to due date for it. If he ever finishes it, that will probably be my cue for a reread 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Laziness Happens | bitsnbooks

  3. I’ve been intimidated by this book for about four years now. 😐
    Like Matt, I’ve read An Equal Music and I quite like the way he writes, but I have a feeling his writing will be hard to digest in large quantities. Still, you gave it a seven on ten, and that’s pretty good, isn’t it? Not spectacular, but still good?

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    • I would say a 7 is about average. I think it’s one of those books you probably won’t love while you’re reading it, but once you get to the end you’re really glad you persevered with it.

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  4. Ahhh I have been interested about this book for a while. I read An Equal Music by Vikram Seth a few years ago and quite liked it, but the size of this beast did turn me off a little. But I didn’t mind Midnight’s Children (didn’t love it, but I liked it), so maybe I should try this. Your review has definitely made me wonder… 🙂

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    • I was the same with Midnight’s Children – it took forever to get started.
      This is the first thing I have read by Vikram Seth and overall I did really enjoy it. It’s just the politics I don’t like – that’s probably because I don’t have an interest in it in real life, so why would I want to read about it?
      But you should definitely give it a go. Just keep a couple of smaller books on hand to read when you get sick of it.

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      • I know what you mean. Sometimes the politics interests me, but I think I have to be in the mood for it. If the politics has serious ramifications on the historical context that affects the social and cultural aspects, then yes I might be interested. But sometimes the political aspect is just dry and boring and then it’s tedious reading as you say.
        I think I will give it a go one day, but I think I’ll take your advice with the smaller books hahaha.

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