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A Suitable Boy [Paperback]

Vikram Seth
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 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

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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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 173,438 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


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
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read 26 Jan 2004
By Rohun
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
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.
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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
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
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent novel.... one of a kind! 10 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This is the best book I have read so far. The book is full of characters and the story is well planned. It is a lovely story and I couldn't put the book down! Vikram Seth has gone deep into all topics that he has written about, be it culture, medicine, law or even politics. I have already started reading it again and I am enjoying it even more! It is a must read for every one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
It is truly magical. Not in the slightest bit turgid, it flows. Makes you want to go there and see for yourself. The characters are so real, and you can see normal people living real lives, just like everyone else in the world. You could set this book at any time in history, and in any place, but it would require a miracle to improve on the place and time chosen by Vikram Seth.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book
The best book I have ever read.
Tried once in 1994 to read it but never made it past the first few chapters
Tried again in 2012 while travelling round India and it was... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Ms Lee A Parsell
1.0 out of 5 stars The book is far too big to handle and the print is tiny
I haven't even started this book which was recommended to me by a friend. I probably won't be reading it either as it is too big to handle and the print far too small to be able... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Charles Courtenay Lloyd
5.0 out of 5 stars Why not on Kindle?!?
Incredible, amazing book. But it's mammoth size in paperback is a ridiculous barrier to people reading it. Surely in this day and age we could have an e-version?
Published 2 months ago by Kate Noble
5.0 out of 5 stars A Suitable Boy - A Suitable Boy Vikram Seth
A mammoth novel I first purchased in paperback form more than 12 years ago which I am now re-reading on my Kindle. Read more
Published 3 months ago by John Porter
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books about India
I love this book and am eagerly awaiting the sequel! I love the characters and have learned so much about India through reading this.
Published 3 months ago by HMM
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite books
This is a story about relationships – romantic, among families, between friends, in political groups, between religious faiths and sectors of society (including castes). Read more
Published 3 months ago by joyfrankie
3.0 out of 5 stars This book is not for everyone...
I have just finished this novel and like many others feel a sense of loss now that I have to say goodbye to the characters that, over the month it took me to read, I had become... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ellen Roberts
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic
Richly varied pictures of a newly independent India. This is a deeply moving and fascinating novel. It describes so many different cultures in a changing world seen through the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by maria
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 5 months 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 6 months ago by Jennifer M Higley
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