Sophie's Reviews > Family Matters

Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry
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's review
Jan 06, 14

it was ok
Read from June 16 to 25, 2012

** spoiler alert ** My opinion changed almost by the page on this one. Let's start with the good: I found the portrayal of familial relationships, particularly the mixture of resentment and love and disgust and patience with their bedridden grandfather, to be very moving and authentic. The relationships between Jehangir and Nariman (grandson-grandfather), Roxana and Nariman (father-daughter), Roxana and Yezad (husband-wife), Murad and Jehangir (brothers), Jal and Coomy (siblings), Coomy and Nariman (step-daughter/step-father) all felt realistically layered and complex and managed to represent family relationships over time and not as a static fact. I enjoyed learning a bit about present-day Indian politics and society, and even liked it wasn't written to educate a Western audience, but just assumed that you would get the multicultural references. With a very quiet, understated writing style he managed to create a full and emotional portrait of family life as it intersects with politics and religion and personal history.

I had a lot of issues with the execution though. I really wished he would have stopped writing each scene just one sentence sooner as he has this stupid tendency to punctuate a nice paragraph with a really obvious summarizing sentence to the effect of "Jehangir was sad and hoped his parents wouldn't split up." It killed the subtlety of his writing, and he did it so often! And he was so good at subtlety otherwise! Also, it was so long and moved so slowly and all these interesting developments happened at the end, and I would have loved much more time spent on Mr. Kapur's death and Yezad's religious epiphany and the consequences of that for the family. It felt very rushed at the end and introduced so many new threads that could have been explored along the way. And lastly, some of the dramatic flourishes (all the parts with Lucy, especially falling to her death along with Yasmin) just felt so absurd and melodramatic and at the same time low-stakes because there was absolutely no incentive to care about the Nariman-Lucy relationship.
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Andrea I totally agree!

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