Susy's Reviews > A Suitable Boy

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
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Oct 25, 11

Read in October, 2011

At 1474 pages, this novel about a newly independent India is both massive in scope and microscopically specific in detail. The title refers to the goal of all good Indian parents - to find a suitable boy (or girl) for their child to marry; in 1951 these very virtually all arranged marriages. And while that plot threats continuously throughout the story, it is only one of many. Seth creates four families whose lives intersect by marriage, politics and community; he blends the Muslim and Hindu cultures nicely mostly through the friendship of young adults and the political careers of their parents.

My complaint with this book is that while the story lines are interesting they are told in such exacting detail for every behavior, activity and observation. Lata, the young lady whose mother is determined to find a suitable boy, is bright and has a mind of her own. Even still, she moves through life at a snail's pace and when she meets a suitor on her own (one who by religion is not suitable) she doesn't take advantage of her inner strength.

Even the political and historic events move slowly. Seth goes to great lengths to recreate real life events as part of the plot but exciting as I suspect they were at the time, the drama really can't be felt.

And, it took about 1460 pages for the wedding to occur. By then I'd almost given up. I had to read this book in stages. I'd read about 300 pages & take a break for a fast moving "beach" read. I do love Indian culture and am glad I read this book but I'm certain one can learn just as much from a shorter novel.

Still, I heard Mira Nair state that she hopes to direct the film version; she directed Monsoon Wedding and The Namesake among other films. For that I will be so glad I have the entire novel as reference.
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