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A Suitable Boy [Paperback]

Vikram Seth
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 Aug 2004

Vikram Seth's novel is at its core a love story, the tale of Lata - and her mother's attempts to find her a suitable husband, through love or through exacting maternal appraisal. Set in post-Independence India and involving the lives of four large families and those who orbit them, it is also a vast panoramic exploration of a whole continent at a crucial hour as a sixth of the world's population faces its first great General Election and the chance to map its own destiny.

'A SUITABLE BOY may prove to be the most fecund as well as the most prodigious work of the latter half of this century - perhaps even the book to restore the serious reading public's faith in the contemporary novel ... You should make time for it. It will keep you company for the rest of your life' Daniel Johnson, The Times



Product details

  • Paperback: 1504 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (23 Aug 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781857990881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857990881
  • ASIN: 1857990889
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 156,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Twentieth anniversary-edition of Seth's masterly hymn to life and love set against the backdrop of an independent India. (THE OBSERVER 2013-12-01) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

The classic Number One bestseller from award-winning author Vikram Seth.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read 26 Jan 2004
By Rohun
Format:Paperback
When I finally finished this mammoth book I have to admit feeling a sense of sadness as if I would "miss" the characters that I had become to enthralled by for so long.
Seth portrays India in an endearing and charming way and each character is created brilliantly, be it the self-centered Meenakshi, or the charming yet wastrel of Maan. Yet the story is basically a love story and set against the backdrop of the politics in India of 1951/2 it is a captivating read. Being of Indian origin this was even more significant for me, but it will appeal to readers of all backgrounds.
I shall miss reading this book fondly!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as everyone else says it is 4 April 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a somewhat superflous review, given the praise heaped on this book by all the other reviewers.And they're quite right. This is the rarest of things, a long, literary novel that really delivers and can be enjoyed by anyone who's reasonably literate and has enough time on their hands.
Proof positive that size really does matter, A Suitable Boy's biggest strength is it huge length. Though some passages are redundant, generally the scale of the book adds to its power and resonance, so that by its end the sheer fact of having spent so much time with the characters makes you view them all as friends. The characters are also wonderfully drawn and hugely sympathetic, and though each acts in their own idiosyncratic way, they never stray beyond the boundaries of believability. Lata in particular will be engrained in your consciousness by the end of the book. I viewed her almost as a sister, so strongly did I feel for her. In breaks from reading the book I actually sat around worrying if things were going to work out okay for her. No other book has made me to that.
But as well as being a portrait of an individual and 4 families, A Suitable Boy is a portrait of an entire nation. Although all the main characters are middle class, the book's characters range from Nehru to the poorest peasants. Allegorically, the story of Lata also reflects that of India as a whole. Lata is growing up and trying to make her own decision about marriage just as the world's largest democracy is making its first great decision - in the 1951 General Election. Lata's choices subtly mirror those of the nation to which she belongs, adding another dimension to an already extraordinary story.
The portait of Indian society is remarkable in just how much it seems to teach you of the Indian mindset.
Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Journey 19 Feb 2003
By A. Peel
Format:Paperback
One could say that "A Suitable Boy" is the perfect title for this work by Vikram Seth as it is indeed the tale of Lata's search for an ideal husband, according both to Lata's own and her family's definitions of "suitable"; be they social, religious, political or personal. Alongside her and her family, we are lead to antagonise over how much she should value love? How much she may be willing to sacrifice for it and where following intense love might lead? We share these and many other quandries with her.
However, around Lata there are many other lives, all connecting with her own, and yet heading in their own directions too. As is the case in real life, there is never just one story, and I am tempted to say that to read "A Suitable Boy" is like living in the heart of India and, more particularly, in the heart of the world Seth created, with all your soul.
So much are we drawn into the characters' lives by the rich nature of Seth's descriptions and dialogues, that it is very tedious to have to do anything else but read and be with them all. I am not sure what I will do without them now that I have sadly reached the end and discovered who the suitable boy actually was.........
This is a very special book indeed, perhaps the best I have ever read.
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53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A suitable Joy. 31 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book, reputed to be the longest written in the English language, is a total immersion experience, and you can almost smell India at times. Anyone who has read their share of English classics will hear echoes, from George Eliot, Dickens and Austin, as the old concerns about marrying well are analysed in newly-independent, post-war India. Whom should our girl marry, the poet or the cobbler? Should we marry one we are enthralled by or one that lets us be ourselves? These things are asked but not always answered, against a background of politics and religion. What made it for me were the totally loveable and some equally repellent characters you meet along the way. These seem like real people, which is the delightful triumph of this epic work. There are plenty of blank pages at the back of the book to write your own glossary of the many Indian words you will come across. A book to savour, as you lie on your charpoy, sipping a cool nimbu pani.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe all the rave reviews 5 Oct 2005
Format:Paperback
I am a sceptic. Having read glowing reviews, pages of them, I was still unconvinced but read it anyway, preparing to scorn. Several other so called 'best ever' reads reviewed in a similar light left me completely cold (Cloud Atlas and White Teeth being the most memorable disappointments of late).
But I was totally unprepared for how I would feel about this book. Like many other reviewers, it rates as one if not the most amazing book that I've ever read. It got me hooked almost immediately and the characters, story and the sheer beauty of the writing and images got under my skin. I finished it a couple of months ago now and haven't been able to enjoy or finish the pile of unread fiction books stacking up since- nothing has yet compared to it.
Read it and see for yourself.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic read
A wonderful story which takes you into the lives of all the characters snd makes you want to read more.
Published 24 days ago by delwin jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Vikram Seth - in my eyes - with A Suitable Boy is a worthy rival to...
I thought this was a wonderful book. From the very start you are drawn into the story of four interlocking families in India set just after the partition of Pakistan and India. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jennifer M Higley
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Everything about this book was wonderful The sprinkling of historical facts throughout the text was most informative A love story with a twist
Published 2 months ago by chel
4.0 out of 5 stars Bit of a tome!
A book club choice for our 'Summer read'. Took me a long time to finish it as it is quite lengthy. Apart from that the stories therein are colourfully written with the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Julie in Staffordshire
1.0 out of 5 stars bad
drivel! not worth buying and certainly not anything like the reviews. Didn't bother. To finish. Might be enjoyable if u expect no literary content
Published 2 months ago by annie
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
I read it for several years ago in swedish translation, now I have it in English, and that is much much better.
Published 3 months ago by marketa dvoracek-novak
5.0 out of 5 stars Rereading it in ebook format after 15 years..
..and just as enrapturing as before. Can't wait for A Suitable Girl. One of the best reads of all time for me
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars How to be good - the epic
I loved this book. It entertained and fascinated me with its plot (finding a suitable boy for Lata to marry) and innumerable sub-plots and themes (shoe workers, university... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ivo Frederickson
3.0 out of 5 stars Too big to hold! Buy the kindle version.
I wish I had waited the extra month to get this on my kindle but i was impatient to get started. I haven't read it yet as it is HUGE and too big to hold comfortably. Read more
Published 4 months ago by S. Bromiley
5.0 out of 5 stars A Suitable read!
One of the best books I have ever read. Don't be put off the length as it is a epic novel not just about an important moment in India's history, but also about life. Read more
Published 4 months ago by MR R.YADAV
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