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A Suitable Boy (A Suitable Boy #1)

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  31,993 Ratings  ·  1,512 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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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul Bryant
Nov 23, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it it was ok  ·  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
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
Dec 04, 2013 Sim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 26, 2015 Arah-Lynda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-said
I finished Vikram Seth’s tome A Suitable Boy this Sunday morning while enjoying my coffee and a white chocolate, coconut Christmas cookie that my daughter had baked just last night. All right, all right, I confess it was actually two white chocolate, coconut Christmas cookies. But who can blame me really. They were so good. Not too sweet, she had gone ahead and reduced the suggested amount of sugar, resulting in a perfect blend of sweet with just a hint of salt and a nice moist and chewy texture ...more
Jun 18, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Tea Jovanović
Remek-delo Vikrama Seta! MUST READ... Odličan prevod Brane Radević... Još jedna indijska priča koja je postala savremeni klasik...
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
Mar 23, 2014 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jan 07, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rth-lifetime, music, 2016
Dynasty in India is what this book really is, for all its allusions to Victorian novels. But sure, yes, it's longer than War & Peace, ensuring its place on the Books Your Friends Didn't Finish list:

The Hawking Index
- Brief History of Time
- Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
- Suitable Boy
- Every book published before 1940
- The Bible

And it shares with War & Peace a panoramic, many-charactered view of an entire society, against the backdrop of real events - here, the 1951 abolition of the f
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
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
Gorab Jain
Apr 21, 2016 Gorab Jain rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: indian, 2016
Without any doubt 5 stars! This is the longest book I've ever read at 1474 pages and 3 months. Did a BR with Arpit, and our frequent discussions is what made this experience extraordinary! Set in 1950's its a story of four extended families with the central theme being finding a suitable boy for Lata. More than the plot, its the layered development of EACH and EVERY character (and there are so many!!) which makes it a masterpiece. Even the details of Hindu Muslim riots, ghazals and mehfils, poli ...more
Anoop Pai B
Game, set, match.. Cannot control my tears (not literal ones) from streaming down on my dust covered face and leaving a track as it slides down..
Reading this book felt like lifting the Wimbledon trophy, the most coveted prize in tennis. Ever single person who turns a professional, wants to win nothing more, than Wimbledon, at least once. Else there is no inner peace. I too, was like a tennis player, in the sense that ever since I picked up a novel, ever since I became an "avid" reader, Suitable
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
Jul 01, 2008 Quirine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Faroukh Naseem
Mar 22, 2016 Faroukh Naseem rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have always been impressed and awed by writers mainly because of the research and effort they put in to write the perfect tale and their imagination in bringing together characters and the details that govern each characters features...

Vikram Seth has to be applauded for his effort (which seems to be such a petty word) when we talk about this Herculean book!

**Extremely Mild Spoilers**

The Basic plot is about Mrs. Rupa Mehra wanting to find a Suitable Boy for her youngest daughter, Lata but the
Bramha Raju
Mar 04, 2013 Bramha Raju rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
By the time I got to the end, I wanted to throw this book across the room, but by then I was exhausted. The book was too heavy to lift and heave properly, so I slapped the paperback covers with as much derision as I could manage.

This is the longest book I’ve ever read. It’s the world’s 17th longest novel. Longer than Infinite Jest. Longer than War and Peace.

You’d think they’d give me some sort of prize for reading all that. But what do I get instead? (view spoiler)
A fact : I never ever understood how postpartum depression works or why women suffer from it.

Yet another fact: Having finished A Suitable Boy arouses similar feelings in a reader as postpartum depression in a new Mum.


Well, by the you finish reading one of the longest English novels ever written and the longest English Novel written by an Indian and that Indian is Vikram Seth, you're kind of used to the story, the characters, the way their life goes on. So, when you turn the last pa
May 06, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  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
Apr 12, 2016 Varsha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had been waiting for over two years to read this book and I only managed to find a copy now. Vikram Seth is par excellence in the way that he sketches his characters- each character is deep, layered and volatile in his/her unique way. He manages, in his 1400 pages, to capture every single human emotion possible. Another feather in the author's cap is the mind-boggling level of research undertaken- while dealing with larger than life erstwhile political and national leaders, one has to be caref ...more
Prashant R
Feb 26, 2009 Prashant R rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 28, 2014 Neha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
How do I review this book? It is long...1,350 pages long...which for this book is TOO long.
It is 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
Selvakumar Subramanian
At 1474 pages and with a small typeface, this book really is a tome and is equivalent of a good 4-5 novels. Initially when I read it, I gave up after nearly 200 pages and thought it was boring due the mundane nature of things that were being described and nothing really big happening like you would expect in a typical novel of 400 pages at the midway point. Then I read a review and started reading it again and this time I really liked it. I saw that the beauty of the novel was in the details, in ...more
Joy Stephenson
May 10, 2014 Joy Stephenson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a story about relationships – romantic, among families, between friends, in political groups, between religious faiths and sectors of society (including castes). It deals with the conflict between personal freedom / self-fulfilment and duty / responsibility towards others. It is a long and complex novel, in which the stories of the different groups of characters are skilfully plaited together to make a multi-faceted tale. One of the strengths of the book is that each time we return to a ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 15, 2011 Ensiform rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, india
Finished! 1474 pages of Indian middle-class mores, a huge vast giant tome the size of five to seven normal books. The story of Lata Mehra, an India girl, who is told she will marry a suitable boy by her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, who looms over the whole novel and its four large extended families like a big banyan tree. The main question of the book is, I suppose, Will she, and Who, although in retrospect the husband to be was the only minor character, unrelated to the families, whose story was to ...more
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North Liberty Rea...: * A Suitable Boy 2014 Group Read 55 33 Sep 24, 2015 08:41AM  
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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 about Vikram Seth...

Other Books in the Series

A Suitable Boy (5 books)
  • A Suitable Boy (Volume 1)
  • A Suitable Boy (Volume 2)
  • A Suitable Boy (Volume 3)
  • A Suitable Girl (A Suitable Boy, #2)

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“God save us from people who mean well.” 1660 likes
“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.” 175 likes
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