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A Suitable Boy

(A Bridge of Leaves #1)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  43,898 ratings  ·  2,528 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 extended fam ...more
Paperback, 1474 pages
Published October 4th 2005 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published May 1st 1993)
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Nishtha Kathuria
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Karry I was both sad and disappointed. I thought that the way the author handled the Maan and Firoz issues was very good and was hoping that Lata's situatio…moreI was both sad and disappointed. I thought that the way the author handled the Maan and Firoz issues was very good and was hoping that Lata's situation would be concluded similarly, not with kid gloves but gently. When my husband and I finished it last night we were very disappointed and although we are less so today we still feel like it was disjointed and so sad. I'll miss Lata's mother and many of the strong characters who became part of our family for the weeks we read it. (less)

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Average rating 4.12  · 
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 ·  43,898 ratings  ·  2,528 reviews


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Paul Bryant
Oct 01, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: anyone with an insatiable interest in every possible detail about every possible person
Shelves: novels, india
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.
...more
Lynne King
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Whitaker
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
Sim
Mar 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Em Lost In Books
WOW! I didn't want this to end even after reading more than 1400 pages and heartbreakingly it ended but am glad this book made me feel so many emotions. I haven't read something like this in a long time, it was just spellbinding. ...more
Rajat Ubhaykar
I don't even know where to begin gushing about this one, so panoramic is its scope and so delightful its literary charms. Vikram Seth's 800,000 word magnum opus is lengthier than War and Peace and more compulsively readable than a well-paced soap opera. It is an event in one's life. I call it a soap opera, because fundamentally, the plot is a family drama, revolving around the wooers of its principal character, Lata Mehra.

Set in the early 1950s and written with a forceful simplicity akin to R K
...more
Arah-Lynda
Nov 30, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Edward
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Suitable Boy describes a year in the life of the fledgling Indian democracy, indirectly told through the experiences of four connected families and a litany of supporting characters, who, due to the diversity of their occupations and social positions, are able to explore various facets – political, legal, social, cultural, religious, artistic – of the India of this period, and the clash of its opposing cultural forces: traditional versus modern values, religion versus secularism, Hinduism vers ...more
Sarah
Jun 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 country. 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 t ...more
Vartika
Oct 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars: A Great Indian Novel in both scale and scope

Those familiar with the unique dramatic phenomenon that are Hindi television soaps would see why many tend to bring them up in comparison with A Suitable Boy: both are interminably long and contend, prima facie, with the quintessentially Indian concept of arranged marriage. And yet, this is where the similarities largely end, for Vikram Seth's delightful literary behemoth extends its scope beyond the personal destinies of its characters an
...more
Rebecca
Jun 05, 2015 rated it liked it
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)
...more
Megan Baxter
Jul 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Sue
Dec 02, 2010 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
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 relation
...more
Alex
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music, 2016, rth-lifetime
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 according to me
- 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 t
...more
El
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
Faroukh Naseem
Dec 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Emilia
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a wonderful book, the most beautiful I've ever read. I love it! ...more
Margitte
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
Onaiza Khan
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Finishing this book feels like a milestone in life. First of all, because it is enormous and secondly because I've learnt a lot from it. I think the plot design is impressive. Everything happens just when it should in the story. And although there are multiple storylines at work, they do not create any confusion. The story is well laid out, especially the political scenario of Post-Independence India. The end is satisfying and justified.

But there is too much I do not like. Seth begins his book
...more
James Henderson
This is a novel of India set in the early 1950s just after the partition. In it, Vikram Seth provides a window into the culture and history of India at an early critical juncture in its history: the political and cultural climate five years after the country gained its independence from Great Britain in 1947. At the center of the novel is 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
...more
Ted
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-india
Have to remove this one. I know I liked it, but at over 1300 pages, and occupying almost 2 inches of shelf space, it must go.

I have to admit I remember little about the novel, except enjoying the story very much when I read it. (Given that, it could be argued that a 3 rating would make more sense? But no.)



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Previous review: Song of Solomon
Next review: The Sweet Forever George Pelecanos
Later review: Inventing the Middle Ages

Previous library review: The God of
...more
Shriya
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.

Why?

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
...more
Smriti
It definitely feels like an accomplishment now that I've finished it.

Omg.
...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
...more
John Anthony
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I can’t believe that I’ve finished reading this – almost 1500 pages of it. I’ve been daunted by this 3” of book for years but finally I can now look the paper doorstep in the eye/spine and smile. But my life now seems so flat, so quiet, so dull (and cold!) after being in India for so long. Time there certainly didn’t drag!

The British have been gone 3 or 4 years at the outset of the book. The continent has been partitioned and the resulting fledgeling independent states of India and Pakistan are
...more
Beverly
Oct 15, 2017 rated it liked it
India has fascinated me ever since I saw the television adaptation of Paul Scott's The Raj Quartet called The Jewel in the Crown for tv. A Suitable boy takes place in the early 1950s just as India is grappling with her independence from Britain. There is a great deal of history here about Nehru's Congress Party and the Zamindari Act which took land from rich feudal owners and redistributed it to the workers who had lived and worked on it all their lives.
It sounds dry, but is explained well throu
...more
Teenu Vijayan
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.25 for the story, rest for me for finishing this ;)
Lot of thoughts and ramblings ahead.
What a book!! Had decoded the book in 6 parts on my Bookstagram, posting it here too.
Post 1/6
Today's post will be my views on the author- the fabulous Mr Vikram Seth.
His name is something I remember listening to while growing up, more than in literary context it was for the general knowledge stuff that I learnt/read about him and this book. Picking up such a huge book is definitely intimidating and only thro
...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
Bramha Raju
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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1,384 followers
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

Other books in the series

A Bridge of Leaves (2 books)
  • A Suitable Girl (A Bridge of Leaves, #2)

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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.” 255 likes
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