Sunday, 28 February 2010
My Thoughts: A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
A Suitable Boy has sat glaring at me on my shelves for a good 8 years. On at least 2 or 3 occasions I have started it and given up quickly. I'm one of those people who love the sense of satisfaction of finishing a book, so a 1500 page book is always a struggle. Determined to finally read it I organised a read-a-long on bookcrosing.com where we read a section a week (sections are on average 70-100 pages long. I'm not only excited that I finished the book but that I also managed to host it on time each week.
A Suitable Boy is set primarily in the fictional city of Brahmpur, but travels across Delhi, Calcutta and various other parts of India along the way. The novel's central core is the search for a suitable husband for Lata, the youngest member of the Mehra family. Yet Lata's search is just a segment of the rich tapestry of this novel. The novel reaches out and tells us the stories of her family members and friends, her suitors and also of those who they know. In this way the book becomes more than just a love story, but also a tale entwined with politics, society, relgion and life in the various castes.
There is far too much in this book even to try and explain the plot line(s). But, I have to say that I loved it. Each section managed to vary, to keep you wondering what would happen next, and how else all the characters would be related to each others lives in someway. Some characters I loved from the very beginning such as Malati, her outspoken bestfriend and Kabir, the man she loves but who is of the wrong religion for her family to consider a marriage. There were some characters I grew to love and some who I continued to dislike until the very end. The writing was fresh and poetical (in places) ensuring that things never became dry.
I'll certainly be looking out for more of Vikram Seth's work in the future, I've read that he is a poet so I'll be searching out some of his poetry as well as his novels.