A Suitable Boy
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A Suitable Boy

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  23,105 ratings  ·  1,184 reviews

Vikram Seth's novel is, at its core, a love story: Lata and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, are both trying to find -- through love or through exacting maternal appraisal -- a suitable boy for Lata to marry. Set in the early 1950s, in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy takes us into the richly imagined world of four large exten

Paperback, 1488 pages
Published November 19th 1998 by McArthur & Company (first published 1993)
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Nov 23, 2012 Paul rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone with an insatiable interest in every possible detail about every possible person
After about page 200 I realised this was like eating Turkish Delight morning noon and night and my spiritual teeth were beginning to dissolve under a tide of sickliness which didn't ever let up. All these characters are so unbearably cute, even the less-nice ones. If post-independent India was crossed with Bambi, it would be Vikram Seth's endless gurgling prose.
So I stopped reading and drove several three inch nails into my head, and I've been all right since then.
Lynne King
This is a magnificent saga, which left me breathless and awaiting the next word, set in India at the beginning of the fifties.

"Suitable Boy" by Vikram Seth's “epic love story set in India. Funny and tragic, with engaging, brilliantly observed characters, it is as close as you can get to Dickens for the twentieth century. The story unfolds through four middle class families - the Mehras, Kappoors, Khans and Chatterjis. Lata Mehra, a university student, is under pressure from her mother to get mar...more
I know some GR’ers didn’t really cotton on to the style of this book. And maybe it was because I read this while on vacation in India itself, but wow! Just W.O.W! It’s a fucking long book—1,500 pages. And every single page was worth the time I spent on it and more.

If Midnight’s Children is India’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, then A Suitable Boy must be its War and Peace. It’s got the same melding of personal lives seen in amidst great national events. Instead of the romance of Natasha and Pi...more
3.5* Nope... 3 stars

Vikki, baby... Listen to me what I say: Put down that manuscript... you know, the sequel, that "Girl" story... and run, do not walk, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, go directly to Bollywood and write the effing screenplay to this book. This would make such a good mini series, and I mean you've had almost 20 years and everything. What are you waiting for!?!

Think of the possibilities!

The beautiful women.
The handsome men.
The fabulous stories.
The lush costumes.
The incredible...more
Megan Baxter
I was never entirely sure who belonged to what family in this book, but it never really bothered me. I mean, after we switched back to a different group of characters, I was able to reconstruct who they were related to fairly easily, but I never could hold the genealogies in my mind.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Dec 04, 2013 Sim rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: everyone!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Danielle Franco-Malone
This is one of my five all time favorite books (along with the Handmaid's Tale, On Beauty, the Red Tent, & Corelli's Mandolin). It is a patch work story of many characters' lives; by the end of the story, you see how they all intersect.

This was one of those books where when I finished the book I was completely invested in each of the character's life. The story is set in post-independence India and explores a number of social/political issues of the time (i.e. land reform, muslim-hindu rela...more
Jun 18, 2007 Sarah rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone who reads
Shelves: foreverbooks
Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy is one of the best books I've ever read in my entire life. It's a long book. But it is very engaging; I managed to read it in one stretch, with a break to sleep, while I awaited the movers to take me and my belongings across the counry. To my chagrin I had completed it before my flight, and when it finished I didn't want the book to be over, I wanted to go back and re-read it from the beginning. It is one of the best books about life in India I've ever read, it is th...more
Mar 23, 2014 Sue rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone interested in India and historical fiction
A Suitable Boy takes place over the course of a year in an India which is adjusting not only to independence but to partition. Through the stories of some of the major families of Brahmpur, we observe and participate in not only the day to day activities of individuals but the workings of government, developing industry--some quite primitive, the existence of caste--though outlawed, religious hatred, and the search for love and marriage. There are beauty and violence, squalor and humor, festival...more
The book blurb says it all. I will only add my comments.

While reading this monumental novel of 1535 pages, I was wondering how much of the original offering was edited out to end up with this number of pages as the final result! I also wondered, while ploughing through it, how much of the existing book can be cut out and still leave the essential core. Probably half of it. Compared to Barbara Kingsolver and Yung Chang, Vikram Seth needed twice as much pages to tell similar stories as these two a...more
For Thanksgiving 2010 I spent the day finishing up Infinite Jest. For a while there I thought maybe I'd always try to finish up some sort of behemoth on Thanksgiving day, since the day to me means staying in my jammies and watching The Godfather on TV while I read. The food involved can easily be made while reading or the Boyfriend steps up and makes the yummies. But then last year I went with a a shorter book choice which I was able to read all on Thanksgiving. Boy, was that a mistake.

But then...more
This is a novel of India set in the early 1950s just after the partition, Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy provides a window into the culture and history of India at that juncture in its history through a romance about a young girl, Lata, whose mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, is searching for a "suitable boy" for her to marry. The novel's opening section succeeded in immediately arresting my attention. Some of the most notable aspects of the novel include the subtle ways that the author suggests the contin...more
Tea Jovanović
Remek-delo Vikrama Seta! MUST READ... Odličan prevod Brane Radević... Još jedna indijska priča koja je postala savremeni klasik...
Dec 22, 2013 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: around the world readers
I'm feeling this great sense of accomplishment right now after finishing this gargantuan book this morning. The crazy thing is that I almost wish it wasn't done. I want to know so many things about the characters - (view spoiler) However, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, co...more
I have an in-built horror of books that stray on longer than 300 pages. Anything longer and I always find the story sagging somewhere towards the middle and losing me by the end. Except with A Suitable Boy. It's over 1000 (tightly written) pages and I only wish it could have gone on and on. This sprawling saga takes you all over India in the 50s, into the lives of a dozen or so interconnected characters. And yet Seth masterfully manages to keep each story bubbling on the stove with delicious res...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
This is like a buffet of Indian food. Everything seems to be here, in this monster of a book, all 1349 pages and 3 kilos of it: law, politics, business, history, tradition, superstitions, deities, romance, suspense, tragedy, humor, festivals, marriages, infidelities, friendship, betrayal, family, deaths, births, suicide,court trials, land reform, poetry, the Chatterji's couplets, amusing characters, etc. Even my mother is here (I mean, a character who, in some ways, resembles my mother). There's...more
Prashant R
I read this book, almost two decades ago, when it first released in 1991. I had just appeared for my 12th grade exams and was hungrily soaking up books, through my vacations. I borrowed it from my neighborhood "circulating" library in Bombay, for a princely sum of Rs 50/- (a single US $). This was also the first book by an Indian author i had read.The scope, the breadth and the range of characters, in this book, are breathtaking. I could associate with some of the characters and certainly the mi...more
A Suitable boy is a very sutiable book for both boys & girls..

When I borrowed this book from the library I found it surprisingly huge and scary, everyone who saw me carrying it was equally astounded. I started having my doubts that what if the book becomes a lousy read and I end up wasting my time or leave it half read.. but the book from Page 1 had a smooth pace & never for once lost my interest. SO when Vikram Seth says in his opening lines..

'Buy me before good sense insists,
You’ll s...more
Bramha Raju
I admit without a semblance of ignominy that my convent bred education never allowed me to enjoy my own clan- Indian authors. But recently, as my brother would say, I have developed a taste for it. When this book was released and made such a mayhem in the readers world, the size of the book and the language put me off. It has been sitting on my shelf and quietly staring at me until I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I finally read it and now at 37 years old and 13 years plus married life, I thorou...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I love this book. If I had to choose my favourite book of all times, perhaps this one would win it.
I don't know what exactly is the reason for loving it so. Maybe its because my life situations are similar to the protagonist Lata in the book. Or because of the tender yet moving way in which the book is written. Or the proper timing of humour in the book, or the interesting plot. Maybe its all of that together.
The book begins with Lata at her sister Savita's wedding, where we come to know of La...more
How do I review this book? It is long...1,350 pages long...which for this book is TOO long.
It is heavy...as in 4 1/2 pounds heavy...and not available in an e-book version.
I built up my forearm muscles and strained my wrists reading all 1,350 pages of this 4 1/2 pound monstrosity.

As to the contents of the book...did I mention it is TOO long. It was interesting, yes, but too detailed for its own good. The novel covers a year in the life of four familes in India in the 1950's. The story of Lata an...more
I read this book a long time ago but it has always stayed with me. It is so massive that it takes a lot of commitment to complete but it is so brilliantly written with so many characters to love (or hate!) that it really is easy to get lost in its' world.

This is certainly one of the best books I have read and is an astonishing achievement! I found I could empathise more with the Muslim characters in the book than with some of the others but Vikram Seth's superbly detailed accounts ensured that n...more
Joyce Lagow
A massive (1474 pages), quiet novel that superficially is something of an Indian novel of manners much in the style of the 19th century English novelists, but which also is a history of India at a critical time� the early 1950s� as experienced by the members of four middle class families and a host of characters from others.[return][return]The central thread of the novel is the search for a husband� � a suitable boy� for Lata Mehra, the younger daughter of Mrs. Rupra Mehra, a widow who lives in...more
A Suitable Boy is the inter-connected tale of four families in post-independence India. Although the central story is Mrs Rupa Mehra's quest to find a suitable husband for her daughter Lata, Seth's novel is more than that and is best described as a panoramic of Indian society. From racial tension to religious festivals to adultery, ambition and politics, A Suitable Boy is an epic in every sense of the word. The many individual stories are told alongside each other in nineteen parts and cover the...more
Ellie Ray
Jun 14, 2007 Ellie Ray rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: those interested in Indian literature and society, people with strong wrists and long plane flights
This book combines Jane Austen's sensitivity to the nuances of social interaction and compelling characters with a Tolstoyesque interest in every social, political, economic and religious detail pertaining to the greater world of the plot. Lata, the main character, is a college student in Brahmpur in the 1950s whose mother is determined to marry her off to some nice middle-class boy (hence the title), but the 1400+ novel (one of the longest ever published in English) often ignores her for chapte...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a novel comparable to the great books of the best nineteenth century writers. It is epic in scope while managing to remaining intimate in all its rich detail. It's the story of an upper middle class family in India searching for a suitable boy to marry their daughter. The small details of Indian extended families and the intricate dance of caste and education, prospects and charm, set in modern Calcutta are so completely engaging you begin to feel like a member of the family.

It is an eno...more
Good, readable for anyone who has time & determination. (My note)

This formidable novel is, surprisingly, highly readable. When I first read its review in a Newsweek (or Time?) column some 6-7 years ago, I decided not to read it at all due to its 1,300 + pages of medium-size pocket book. However, later for some reasons I recalled vaguely on Seth's writing style, I bought a copy to read with delight since the author wrote superbly and wisely by limiting each chaper within some pages long. His...more
Graham Crawford
I am glad I read this tome, because so many people talk about it, but I am not a fan. I think it achieves what Vikram Seth set out to do. The novel raises three stylistic metaphors in the novel that he's trying to capture Indian Sensibility and Structure with - An all night improvised classical music performance, the twisting roots and branches of a banyan tree, and the meandering tributaries and delta of the River Ganges. Dozens of plots and characters are meant to emerge and many petter out in...more
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Vikram Seth is an Indian poet, novelist, travel writer, librettist, children's writer, biographer and memoirist.

During the course of his doctorate studies at Stanford, he did his field work in China and translated Hindi and Chinese poetry into English. He returned to Delhi via Xinjiang and Tibet which led to a travel narrative From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet (1983) which won...more
More about Vikram Seth...
An Equal Music The Golden Gate Two Lives From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet Beastly Tales from Here and There

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“But I too hate long books: the better, the worse. If they're bad they merely make me pant with the effort of holding them up for a few minutes. But if they're good, I turn into a social moron for days, refusing to go out of my room, scowling and growling at interruptions, ignoring weddings and funerals, and making enemies out of friends. I still bear the scars of Middlemarch.” 116 likes
“God save us from people who mean well.” 82 likes
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