Hayes's Reviews > A Suitable Boy

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
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's review
Jul 08, 12

bookshelves: bc-bookring, tbr-challenge-2012, read-in-2012
Read from February 04 to July 08, 2012

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 locations.
The complex history.

And after all those adjectives you could get some great comic relief with a scene like this one from Bend It Like Beckham to balance out the politics and the sexual tension:

There is even some scope for song and dance...

The complete Bollywood show!

Well, maybe not, but I'm sure you can change things around a little bit to work in a big musical number like this one. Everyone likes a big production number. I think it would add to the enjoyment... you know: Sex, drugs and raaga!

But seriously.

I'm glad I read it. (I confess that I did not read every single word. I did lots of skimming through several of the story lines.) I'm not sure if I should recommend it. I like to sleep easy at night... who knows who might come after me if I made an actual recommendation.

Having said that:

The story is gorgeous. It is four family sagas woven together, in all its complex glory. I recommend taking notes on each of the characters right from the start, however. I made the mistake of thinking that the little family trees at the beginning of the book would be enough to keep everything straight in my mind, but by the time I got to page 500, I had forgotten who the hell that character was and what happened to him on page 200 and, damn, I bet he'll turn up again on page 1175.

The writing is gorgeous. Seth has a way with prose, and it's a good thing too, otherwise I wouldn't have made it to the end of this monster (who am I kidding: I wouldn't have made it past page 100!), although the book does wander off topic a bit. Several times in fact.

The cultural history is gorgeous, but there is just too much of it. There is a lot of discussion about traditional music, which is swell if you know the difference between a raaga and a tappa, or care, but I do not and found this part to be obscure and tedious. There were several discussions about politics--post partition, regional elections, national political committees--which play a part at the end of the story, but I found them tiresome and felt that a summary could have been used to better effect. And finally there was the whole "love story" between the courtesan and the not-quite-rich-enough young man, which went on and on (and on!) and even has a side story or two which branch off from it. It also plays a part in the last 300 pages of the book, but 1100 pages to set up the finale is a bit rough, Vikki. Next time call me for some editing advice before you publish, 'K?

Thank heavens for the search engine. I spent half my life looking up Indian vocabulary (where was the editor?), historical references, cultural points. The book should have been 600 pages shorter with 300 pages of notes. Period.

Now where is that mini series, Vikki?
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Reading Progress

02/05/2012 page 10
02/08/2012 page 35
2.0% 2 comments
02/18/2012 page 80
5.0% 6 comments
02/20/2012 page 100
7.0% 3 comments
03/13/2012 page 310
21.0% "finished part 5, and will take a breather... Will come back to it next month."
04/08/2012 page 345
23.0% 1 comment
04/16/2012 page 400
27.0% 5 comments
04/26/2012 page 450
31.0% 12 comments
05/03/2012 page 508
34.0% 22 comments
05/14/2012 page 575
39.0% 5 comments
05/26/2012 page 690
47.0% 6 comments
05/27/2012 page 835
57.0% 3 comments
05/30/2012 page 910
62.0% "Will take another breather..." 4 comments
06/18/2012 page 960
65.0% "Something to read while the Beast does his physical therapy 3 times a week... I may just get this finished!" 3 comments
06/25/2012 page 1065
72.0% 6 comments
07/04/2012 page 1190
81.0% "Getting closer..." 4 comments
07/06/2012 page 1240
84.0% 1 comment
07/07/2012 page 1344
91.0% 6 comments
07/08/2012 page 1474
100.0% "" 5 comments
show 17 hidden updates…

Comments (showing 1-50 of 67) (67 new)

message 1: by Fiona (new) - added it

Fiona good luck with this boulder!

Hayes It's been sitting here for a century... My husband gave me a new doorstop for our anniversary, so I don't need it any more. ;-)

message 3: by Wanda (new) - added it

Wanda You are zipping along!

message 4: by Hayes (last edited Oct 03, 2012 01:35PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hayes Turbo charged!

message 5: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Hauled it back of the bookshelf, I see.

Hayes Indeed... it had a little vacation and now I will read another section.

message 8: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Hehe! When I saw A Suitable Boy in the updates I wondered how you were going with it. Now I know!

Hayes The story is engaging, and well written... there's just so much of it!

message 10: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim There is indeed. Epic hardly begins to describe it!

message 11: by Sera (new)

Sera So glad that you are enjoying it - where you land on it after you finish will help me determine whether I pick it up late in the year.

Hayes 600 pages into the book and we have finally met the titular "suitable boy", who may or may not be totally suitable... The story is finally getting more interesting, too.

message 13: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Wow, 600 pp in lol??

message 14: by Hayes (last edited Jun 20, 2012 01:56AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hayes I have to take my son to another session today, so I'll get another 50 pages read. I'm determined! And curious... the SB has disappeared.

message 15: by Wanda (new) - added it

Wanda It's that "can do" attitude which will carry you to the end! I need to take this one down off the shelf too. The Suitable Girl is to come out next year - will you read her?

Hayes Not likely! I'm glad I'm reading this one, but I don't think I can handle another round.

message 17: by Jeannette (new)

Jeannette Only 400 pages to go......

Hayes I've got 5 physio sessions to sit through. I figure I can plow through 80 pages in 30 minutes.

message 19: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Seriously?? Kudos!

message 20: by Hayes (last edited Jul 03, 2012 07:58AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hayes I read every other word, Laura ;-)

(and it's my son who's doing the physical work, not me!)

Tracey, librarian on strike You can do it!

message 23: by Jemidar (new)

Jemidar You made it!!!! Yay!!! Gotta laugh though, all that for three stars. LOL.

Hayes 3.5 really... am posting the review now. Will take a little time to format.

message 25: by Jemidar (new)

Jemidar Looking forward to it :-).

message 26: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Congratulations!

Hayes Thank you for the votes, Ladies!

What a relief... I hardly know what to do with myself... There's an empty place in my life...


message 28: by Jeannette (new)

Jeannette Great review, Hayes! I bet you feel like I did when I finished Moby Dick. lol

Let me know when the film comes out!

Hayes Thank you, Jeannette.

I can't believe you read Moby Dick. There is one I will never read. The movie was good enough for me!

message 30: by Jeannette (new)

Jeannette I read it chapter-by-chapter, and when I was finished, I missed it.

Well, I'm off to weed now before the heat turns up!

message 31: by Sera (new)

Sera YAY!

message 32: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura I finished Atlas Shrugged and loved it! And I don't even agree with its "point", but believe it or not, it was a page-turner!

Congrats on finishing Moby Dick, Jeannette!

Hayes I don't think I'll ever read Atlas Shrugged, mostly for personal reasons. It is an ex-friend's favorite book, and I'm so mad at her I can't bear the idea of reading the book.

message 34: by Jeannette (new)

Jeannette Thanks, Laura! :) My first and only Melville.

message 35: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura You're welcome, Jeannette!

Sorry to hear that, Hayes....maybe in time, that will leave off and you won't think of her when you think of the book? ((((Hayes))))

Hayes Thanks, Laura. That'll be tough, but perhaps I will read it some day. We were always on opposite sides of the political aisle, but she feels I have become a flaming communist, and I feel she has sold out to the religious right. *sigh*

message 37: by Jeannette (new)

Jeannette That's one of the worst sorts of ways to have a falling-out. It happened to me a couple of years ago, too. My friend said "Jeannette, you're a Democrat?" and it sounded like he thought I was some sort of depraved, axe-murderer......

message 38: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura Oh, that stinks. :(

message 39: by Jeannette (new)

Jeannette It happens, unfortunately.... :( (especially in the USA, politics has become so divisive).

message 40: by Hayes (last edited Jul 08, 2012 08:46AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hayes I agree. It does stink. :-(

(Didn't you know, Jeannette... only recently have Democrats (read Communists) stopped eating Republican children for breakfast!)

message 41: by Jemidar (new)

Jemidar Damn, I'd heard fat, pink Republican babies go well with bacon and eggs ;-D.

message 42: by Jeannette (last edited Jul 08, 2012 08:54AM) (new)

Jeannette Hayes wrote: "I agree. It does stink. :-(

(Didn't you know, Jeannette... only recently have Democrats (read Communists) stopped eating Republican children for breakfast!)"

Must have been the heartburn..... (*sorry* I couldn't resist)

message 43: by Jeannette (new)

Jeannette Jemidar wrote: "Damn, I'd heard fat, pink Republican babies go well with bacon and eggs ;-D."

wow! That's harsh, but it made me chuckle.....

message 44: by Jemidar (new)

Jemidar Glad someone got the joke. LOL.

Hayes Now now, girls!

message 46: by Jeannette (new)

Jeannette Since it's not polite to discuss politics, we're reduced to making jokes about it. :(

message 47: by Jemidar (new)

Jemidar Since most politicians are jokes it seems somewhat appropriate.

message 48: by Hayes (last edited Jul 08, 2012 09:04AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hayes I think that's the part I like least about today's political climate. I'm afraid to say anything for fear of an ugly reaction from my interlocutor.

What's that quote, I can entertain an idea without agreeing with it.

I think we've totally lost the ability to think critically and at the same time feel the need to have 100% consensus. If someone doesn't agree with you he immediately becomes an enemy.

message 49: by Jeannette (new)

Jeannette That's the sticking point, isn't it? We all got a good laugh here last week when the anti-Obama Care camp threatened to defect to Canada. Canada has (from what I've heard) one of the worst public health care systems, as well as liberal laws about lots of other hot-button issues. Nobody thinks any more; they just react.

message 50: by Jemidar (new)

Jemidar I don't think I remember it ever being any different. I think the real difference is the culture of the internet because it means it's no longer a quiet chat amoung friends.

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