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A Suitable Boy- Vikram Seth > A Suitable Boy Parts. 1 - 4

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message 1: by Mathis (last edited Feb 23, 2012 06:12PM) (new)

Mathis Bailey | 57 comments Mod
Discussions on Parts 1 - 4 in this thread.

Please note: Spoilers for this section of the reading may be found within.


message 2: by Terry (new)

Terry Pearce I'm loving it already. It's so slow, and sweet, and real. This book actually typifies why I went from being mainly interested in genre stuff to being mainly interested in literature. For pages, very little can happen, and yet it draws you in, and you care.

I love the small things; how keenly observed things are. I'm glad that I've travelled in India, though. There are still plenty of references I don't 100% understand, like people's titles, and religious references, and so on. But I think he writes in a way that makes it not matter. You always get the context. It was the same with 'An Equal Music' when I wasn't getting all the musical references -- it didn't affect my enjoyment.

I can see and hear the characters very clearly, which is unusual for me, in fact. I like that the style is quite unassuming; scenes are told in a matter-of-fact way that lets the human insight shine. Things are explained just well enough; the reader isn't pandered to, but things aren't too oblique either.

I'm enjoying the string sense of structure; each of the four parts has a definite focus:

(1) Savita's wedding and the Mehras
(2) Saeeda and Maan's romance
(3) Lata and Kabir's romance
(4) Haresh, Kedarnath and the shoe trade

Each time, the writing drew me in until, when I realised that the focus would be shifted for the next part, I felt a little sad. Each time, that faded away as I became engrossed in the little dramas of the next set of lives.

Favourite touches and moments:

- Every scene Bhaskar is in, but most of all his conversation with Haresh about powers of ten

- The discussion about adding James Joyce to the English syllabus

- Saeeda's gradual falling for Maan, and the scene with them both reading from the book

- Reactions to Haresh's unconventional ways, and his dealings with the shoemaker

- Rupa Mehra; her reactions to the medal issue, and her seriousness about greetings card roses and verses


message 3: by Mathis (last edited Feb 28, 2012 10:36PM) (new)

Mathis Bailey | 57 comments Mod
So far, I'm enjoying the book as well. After I've read the first a couple of pages, I was hooked. I wanted to know more about the characters, especially Maan and Lata. Wondering if they will ever come back together in romance. And the authors's writing is brilliant! Every subtle detail transports me back to India where I visited a few times. I really enjoying the writer's style. It has a Victorian -Jane -Austen vibe, in terms to social interaction.

I'm pretty much enjoying all the characters, especially Malati and Mrs. Rupa Mehra, whom takes things to whole different level that makes the humdrum situation dramatic and exciting. Malati is an awesome friend that everyone would love to have. She's the type of girl that will give it to you straight and have your back. I liked her character from the start. And poor Mrs. Rupa Mehra. She's a woman that seems to be always in distress. If it's not her grumpy old father upbraiding her about her parenting skills, it's her odious daughter-in-law doing something to wreck her nerves, or Lata running off to see her muslim boyfriend, Kabir. You cannot help but to feel for Rupa at some time or another, irrespective how old fashioned her ways may be.

And I thought Meenakshi was cold-hearted for melting down the gold medals that was given to her as gift by Rupa, without any consultation. In my mind, I was throwing some many epithets at her...lol. That was really a ruthless thing she did. I wonder what's her motive.

As I learn more about Maan's character, I find him quite child-ish for someone who suppose to be twenty-five of age. I keep thinking he's much younger because of his antics and galavanting. But his salacious romance with, Saeeda, the muslim courtesan singer, is some-what interesting, given that, he already has an arranged marriage looming in the horizon with another girl. I also noticed that this is another Hindu and Muslim spontaneous love affair.

Honestly, I'm not quite sure why there's so much prejudices and hate between Muslims and Hindus. The volatile relationship between the two religion still exist to this day. Which I think is the main focus of this book. And, as for the caste system in India (which I know very little about) it divides indians into hereditary groups, in a heirarchy sense. They are: Shudras, Vaishyas, Brahmins and Khatris which the Mehra's family belong to. To this day, it some-what still a big deal to know somebody's background in India for marriage purposes, and I would assume jobs as well. I hope that's what you meant,Terry, in reference to people's titles.

And there seems to be a lot of couplets in this story, and to be honest, I don't gel well with poetry; however, there's one couplet that I found moving which Lata cited to Kabir when she asked him to run away with her.

- Desert not friendship. Renegade with me
- From raptured realm of Mr. Nowrojee.

In layman terms, I thought she was saying 'Screw this! lets be together. Who cares our religion isn't the same. Stand with me.' She has the burning desire to quash the status quo.


message 4: by Mathis (last edited Feb 28, 2012 10:38PM) (new)

Mathis Bailey | 57 comments Mod
Yea, that was a touching moment with Saeeda and Maan reading from the book. It was nice to see Saeeda take aliking to Maan,given the fact, she's a desirious woman whom seems to keep to herself.


message 5: by Terry (new)

Terry Pearce Yeah, the castes, but also political titles and positional honorifics and so on; there are plenty of ways people address each other besides just heir given names, it seems. But like I say, that's fine.

Meenakshi and Arun annoy me (as people; characters like that are needed somewhere in books). I don't think Meenakshi had a motive besides simple greed in melting down the medals. She wants to get on, to have nice things and be admired. She knew deep down that Rupa would be hurt, but she bypassed that barrier by convincing herself that the medal was hers now to do with as she liked. That kind of rationalisation speaks volumes about her shallowness.

I have to say I'm not normally enamoured of couplets like those but the way they're fitted into the book works well for me.

I agree that Rupa Mehra is a very sympathetic character, even though there's lots about her that I don't relate to personally. She's very well-drawn.


message 6: by Mathis (last edited Mar 02, 2012 11:28PM) (new)

Mathis Bailey | 57 comments Mod
Yeah, it would have been nice if the book had a glossary. Because there are certain abbreviations ( such as; MLA, S.N and G.N etc..) and hindi words that I would like to know the exact meaning. However, I figure words like sahib, baoji, and begum are name attachments for term of endearment, or respect. Nevertheless like you said, it's still understandable the way its written.

And if Arun was my older brother, I would have simply told him to shut up and mind his business. I could only take some much of emotional abuse from someone like Arun. I think he had developed that acidic behavour from his grandfather whom he watched scorn everyone in his path, and receives nothing but servile obedience in return. And Arun craves that same power of control. I think you may be right about Meenakshi. She purely seems to be all about herself.

Once I became adjusted to his style of writing, I also liked the way he had woven the couplets into the story without it being convoluted.


message 7: by Mathis (new)

Mathis Bailey | 57 comments Mod
Hey Terry, I just completed Chapter 7 and moving on into 8. I already started posting in the other section.


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