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A Suitable Boy- Vikram Seth > A Suitable Boy Parts. 15 -19

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message 1: by Mathis (last edited Feb 23, 2012 06:15PM) (new)

Mathis Bailey | 57 comments Mod
Discussions on 15 - 19 in this thread.

Please bear in mind,spoilers for this section of the reading may be found within.

message 2: by Terry (new)

Terry Pearce My review:

I'm very much in love with this book. About the highest praise I could hope to speak of a 1,500 page monster is that i didn't want it to end, and it's true. The book has everything; it's one of those where you finish it and don't want to actually put it down, so you go back over the quotes on the jacket and at the front without the word 'hyperbole' entering your head even once.

To paraphrase one of them, this a long, slow, sweet paean to life, to family, to love. It meanders, it rambles, but it does so like a beautiful stream curving through simple yet breathtaking countryside. For long stretches, nothing happens except people walking in and out of rooms and talking to each other. At other times, the drama is intense and momentous events, for the characters and, in the backdrop, the country, come thick and fast on the back of one another.

At the heart of it is the keenness of Seth's observation. I lost count of the number of times a line here or there, usually simple, not florid, made me grin from ear to ear, or laugh out loud, through sheer recognition. This man watches, and he sees. This book is about what it is to be human. And if that sounds like an overly grand endeavour, what backs its bid in spades is its humility. It talks about life not through grand and direct statements, but in a way that reminds us that life is made up of tiny parts like me and you and all the characters here, some of whom may feel themselves insignificant. This book reminds us that none are.

It succeeds on so many levels; there are so many threads woven through it. You grow to care about so many of the characters: dissolute, volatile Maan; overbearing, over-emotional matriarch Rupa; desperately egalitarian Rasheed; earnest and cocksure yet somehow humble Haresh; child prodigy Bhaskar. We often leave a character for a hundred pages at a time, but when we return we are always pleased to fins out how things fare with him or her, even if the answer is not so well.

And there ultimately, in how it deals with loss and tragedy, lies what for me will echo longest about the book. I have no intention of giving away the nature and scope of the dark moments for any of the characters, but the way they are handled reminds us that life is fragile, and precious, and unfair, but still, at the end of it all, it goes on, and the end of every cycle happens as new ones are beginning all around. The overwhelming note that resounds after the end is one of hope, and of appreciation, and I feel I appreciate life that little bit more for having read it.

message 3: by Terry (new)

Terry Pearce Some extra comments I can add here without the need to avoid spoilers as I did in the review:

I'm floored. I'm so amazed by how Seth managed to hold the whole thing together for 1500 pages without a single bum note. I feel a little bereft that it ended... this is why I reserve my 5-star ratings and give many books that I adore only four stars... for instance, I loved A Fine Balance and Shantaram, but this stands head and shoulders above them as the best book about/based in India that I ever read.

What pushed it into the stratosphere for me is the way the resolutions of all the storylines were handled. For me, with any story, it has to be a fine balance (no pun intended). Too rounded, too pat, too happy-ever-after, turns me off very easily. But too unresolved or depressing, especially after a big time investment, leaves me dissatisfied.

Here Seth judged things masterfully. There was so much sadness (Saeeda Bai, Maan, Mrs Kapoor, Mahesh Kapoor, Rasheed, Kabir) towards the end, and many unresolved threads, but at the same time, there was so much that felt like it had gotten where it needed to be.

The way Lata's story turned out couldn't have been better; I was rooting for Haresh all the way. And the way that Mrs Kapoor's death rippled through the book was so poignant. The aftermath of her death and the resolution of the Kapoor/Khan issues were two of the most moving things I've read since the end of 'The Red Tent'.

I could go on for ages. Wow, just wow.

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