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.