Sim’s review of A Suitable Boy (A Suitable Boy, #1) > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Tas (last edited Jul 31, 2008 12:46PM) (new)

Tas I love love love your detailed review of the book even if, as you know, I liked the ending.
And not only because I prefer sad endings.
I thought it was happy ending for everyone.

I have thought about it actually.
Why, despite me falling in love with Kabir (Amit to some degree as well) and not liking Haresh at all, I condoned Lata's decision to marry Haresh.
The way I saw it, she wasn't settling down with Haresh just to please her mother and society. As you noted, her mom had qualms about him as well. Lata chose Haresha as a marriage with him has more chances of surviving mainly because of the type of person he is (old fashioned like our fathers) and the expectations she has out of a marriage. They both have experienced the verb love and decided love should be action in the form of a marriage or elopement (as Lata requests Kabir to do at the beginning of the book). I got the feeling they might never 'fall in love' with each other but love each other.

Not that Kabir or Amit are not wonderful people who would be equally commited to makinga marriage work, but in the end it is Lata who is not a good match for them. She could not trust Kabir to act and Kabir needed someone who would. As she says, she couldn't give Amit what he needed from a Poet's wife. So it wouldn't have lasted and she didn't seem the type who wanted to risk divorce, esp when marriage was her way out of living with her mother.

Just my two cents :)

message 2: by Neha (new)

Neha i liked your review and I also felt that your being angry with Lata is just.. but you know what I agree as well as disagree..

Lata knew what she was doing, but she didn't know what she was doing when she was with Kabir & Amit was too much of an intellectual for her. She was a simple girl and wanted a simple man.. if that explains it.. ultimately she did not sacrifice or give up anything.. cos we realise that she herself stopped talking to Kabir even when she could.. we don't know much about Mr Mehra from the book but whatever little snippets here or there but as a daugther we generally prefer someone like our fathers as our husbands.. being taken care of, protected, loved no matter what, mutual respect..

i just thought of sharing it with you.. my two cents tooooo

message 3: by Sim (new)

Sim You know, it's interesting you should say that. I read the book back in 2003/2004, but I've been thinking about re-reading it again to see if I feel differently now that I'm *ahem* older, and uhm...wiser ;-) Thanks for the comment!

message 4: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Tedesco I just finished the book and despite some slogs, thought it wonderful and a classic favorite among my books. I came to Goodreads because I am so eager to discuss it now. I kept hoping Meenakshi would get some sort of comeuppance. Love all these reviews.

message 5: by Sim (new)

Sim Yes exactly, I can relate to that feeling!! I remember floating around after I finished the book, unable to get the characters out of my head! As for Meenakshi, the sad thing is, I actually know a couple of people who're like her (in spirit, if not in actual actions) . I totally understand the seething need to put her in her place! Unfortunately, people like that usually breeze through life! :(

message 6: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Tedesco It was quite a different experience for me reading this book. It took me two months or so. I never wanted to skip over so much as a paragraph, but after a few pages I was drowning in words, images, unfamiliar names for people, flowers, trees, clothing, etc. It must be the way a child feels learning a language when things just wash over you. I found that with such a big book to hold that I would sit in a reading chair with good light - I'd get up an hour early in the mornings to read. It was like a total immersion class on India. The author could tie in music, religion, politics, poetry, festivals and people in such a miraculous way. I read that the author's father worked for a shoe company. I also read that he is working on another novel, "A Suitable Girl." You really couldn't make a single movie based on this book. It would have to be a series and cover several seasons. Many many thanks to my friend Dildar Gill Pisani who recommended this book!

message 7: by Sim (new)

Sim I hadn't heard that he was writing A Suitable Girl. That's something to look forward to ! Do read his "Two Lives" - it's a wonderful memoir about his great-uncle and his German-Jewish aunt. Given that it was set pre-WWII, it's a wonderful insight into being Indian in the Western world back then.

message 8: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Tedesco I will read that - as soon as I rush through the next book due for our book club week after next. I have read "A Fine Balance" by Rohanton Mistry (rather I listened to it on tape while commuting) and was very moved and impressed. "A Suitable Girl" (according to Wikipedia) will be about Lata trying to find a match for her grandson! It would be wonderful if they made it into an ebook with a full glossary, word definitions and pictures. We were watching the Occupy Wall Street pictures on the news last night and I thought of Vikram Seth's masterful depiction of Pul Mela and later the riot set off when two religious ceremonies ran into each other.

TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez This is my all time favorite book! I loved every second I spent with it. My favorite characters are Pran and Mrs. Rupa Mehra, though I really liked Amit, too. I liked the fact that Lata chose Haresh even though I thought Kabir was a wonderful person. I think the difference in religion - and lifestyle - would have hampered the happiness of Lata and Kabir both, and their children as well. Haresh "suits" Lata better, I think.

message 10: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Tedesco I just ordered a copy of the book and the companion book for friends we spent the weekend with. It makes me so pleased to share reviews of this book. It is almost as if these people are friends. About a year ago I took on a Facebook friend in India -- he had talked to me during a computer tech call! You might like the journalistic book out recently called "The Instant City" about Karachi. Author Steve Inskeep of NPR. I couldn't put it down and read it through - "Suitable Boy" helped put it in context.

message 11: by Sim (new)

Sim G: You know, I think I'm starting to understand that. Definitely to re-read the book again though :)

Sylvia: Will have to check it out! Thanks for the suggestion. You might also want to check out "Kartography" by Kamila Shamsie. Cannot recommend that book enough :)

message 12: by Vardaan (new)

Vardaan Aggarwal You know, Vikram Seths's mother, Leila Seth, in her autobiography On Balance says that the entire Chatterji clan (except Mr. Chatterji) was based on their own family. And really, Lata was too dumb to settle for Haresh. ( Leila says that Haresh is a portrait of her husband!)

message 13: by Sim (new)

Sim I did not know that ! Will have to read this book! Thanks for letting me know about it.

message 14: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Tedesco Our library system does not have it yet. I will ask them to order it.

message 15: by Carol (new)

Carol Sim's critique is spot on! what I love about it is that Sim loves or despises the characters in the book as real people, because they *are* real. That is the major part of Seth's gift to us. The other part is the panoramic view of a millennia-old society/toddler-young democracy. I eagerly await the sequel.

PS: I no longer have young eyes and postponed reading it for years, until my son bought me an ebook version.

message 16: by Rupa (new)

Rupa the EXACT thoughts, disappointment, and love I felt for the book - you said them all!

message 17: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Love your review, Sim. I just finished reading A Suitable Boy. I had to check it out of the library (where I discovered it) about 3 times. But I HATED THE ENDING!!!! I had the proverbial feeling of wanting to throw the book across the room b/c the heroine chose the wrong hero! (As a romance writer, it comes down to that). So, it wasn't "at its core a love story," as the book jacket suggests, but a story of the road more traveled. Lata took the path of least resistance and accepted her mother's choice for her. Family ultimately was more important for her. I agree that she won't be unhappy, but neither will she know the heights she could have enjoyed with a true soul mate. What she didn't realize when she allowed her fears to rule (not feeling in control when she was around Kabir) is that she would get over those things once she spent more time with him. I did love the book as a whole. What an insight into post-Colonial India. It made me want to read more about the period. And I just read an article about Vikram Seth and realized that much of the characters are based on his own family, so the Lata-Haresh union is probably understandable (given his father's work in a shoe company). But it was a disappointing ending, esp. since he gave Kabir so little attention in the end. Lata wasn't very heroic at the end...

message 18: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer I have to say, I don't think I am disappointed in Lata's decision...I cant see her being or being comfortable as a Chatterji. Kabir...her feelings for him changed who she was and she didn't like the person she became. That is a reasonable explanation to me. There would have been a lot of burned bridges if they had gotten together, and when the flames of passion cooled, would they still have made that decision? Haresh, I thought him to be sweet, utterly honest (to a fault - the word 'mean'), a very hard worker...and remember when Lata was picturing everyone...pictured ruffling his hair (his co-resplendent shoes hidden under the table of course, lol), she felt love for him. When the pedophile uncle came up to her at the wedding, she squeezed her hand...already he was a source of safety, of comfort. And she seemed quite content and even happy when she got on the train to Calcutta and then to Praha. I think he will help her to use her education to do what she desires. Honestly, I am quiet happy for them, and REALLY hope for a sequel so we can find out more. (IMOHO, of course.)

message 19: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Tedesco Yes, I would love a sequel! I think they could make a Gone With The Wind spectacular television series of this book!

message 20: by SJG210 (new)

SJG210 Yes, I felt the whole Meenakshi story line was forgotten in the end. Saeeda Bai too was never really finished or completed. Overall great book. I enjoyed the writing style and also love all the comments here.

message 21: by Shaikh (new)

Shaikh Mustak such a great review .

message 22: by Rafia (new)

Rafia Thank you for so perfectly articulating my one issue with this book. It wasn't the length, because I enjoyed reading it as if it were an extender vacation, but Lata's decision!!!! But I must say I can't be surprised. She wasn't exactly the kind of person that would make an impractical decision. Still, I just couldn't get myself to like Haresh. Whatever, I can't say I resonated much with Lata either. But that's a mark of a good book. I never get so entwined with the characters as I did with this one!

message 23: by David (new)

David Mcnair I loved this book. It was very descriptive and teased out certain points but at other times was really punching and direct (Mrs Kapoor, don't you dare but she did! all a few lines!) Wonderfully brought together when the three suitors meet.I guess the romantics expected Kabir on a white steed at the end (or maybe cricket whites) a bit of me did! but the huge religious and cultural differences the book describes and the family (mother) it was the only choice between the two. I say two because Amit was wonderful but a

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