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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read
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...
Published on 26 Jan. 2004 by Rohun

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unnecessarily long
Warning: if you are buying a Kindle version of this book, please do not underestimate how long it is. I'm usually a marathon reader but I struggled to get through this book. It felt longer and the storyline more complicated than it needed to be (but not particularly gripping), and became a dogged struggle to the end to complete. One positive is that the length of the book...
Published 4 months ago by Cristelle


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read, 26 Jan. 2012
By 
Cloggie Downunder (Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (Paperback)
A Suitable Boy is the second novel by Vikram Seth. It is the story of Lata Mehra and her mother Mrs Rupa Mehra (Ma to her friends), who is intent on finding for her daughter "a suitable boy". It is essentially a story of love and family, but set in the background of immediate post-partition India, the early `50s, and portrays vividly the tensions between races, classes, castes and religions at a time when the newly independent country was struggling to deal with the challenges of famine, mass poverty and uncertainty about its future. Among the many prospects for Lata are: the love match, the (Muslim) Kabir, son of a mathematics professor, whom Ma is decidedly against; the indolent poet Amit, with whom Ma is also unhappy; and the English-educated shoe businessman, Haresh, who seems ideal to Ma, although Lata is less than convinced.
When the reader first picks up this brick (it's almost 1500 pages and Seth even jokes in his Word of Thanks that it may cause wrist injury!), it may seem a daunting prospect, but the writing style makes it surprisingly easy to read. There are a lot of characters, but the family trees kindly provided at the beginning help to keep track of them. This book has humour, horror and heartache; there is tragedy and triumph, passion and politics, violence and victims, grief and guilt; Seth's depiction of the Indian way of life at this time in her history is interesting and informative. This novel has an imaginative plot, and a range of fascinating characters: the emotional Ma; the arrogant Arun; the matter-of-fact Haresh; the precocious Aparna; the intelligent Bhaskar; the absent-minded Dr Durrani; the insouciant Chatterjis with their flippant couplets. Seth is a gifted poet and another delightful touch is that the Word of Thanks is in verse and the Chapter (Part) Headings are rhyming couplets. This novel had me laughing out loud many times, but moved me to tears more than once, as well. It may have taken me almost 2 weeks to read it, but I loved it, and I look forward to the imminent (2013?) "A Suitable Girl".
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Journey, 6 Feb. 2003
By 
A. Peel (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (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 such 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 has been 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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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful depiction of India and an epic story too., 12 Jan. 2003
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (Paperback)
This is certainly one of the best books I have ever read and is an astonishing achievement! Being of Pakistani origin, I found I could empathise more with the Muslim characters in the book than with some of the others but Vikram Seth's superbly detailed accounts ensured that none of the characters were un-interesting. I was particularly enthralled by the characters of Saeeda Bai, the courtesan, and Firoz and Maan as well as the Ustad of classical music. This was what was so great about the book. It seemed as if all of India was here, in front of me as I read this book. Princes, businessmen, academics, paupers, villagers, tanners, untouchables, priests, mullahs, imams, Urdu, Hindi, English...the wonderful scents and colours painted a great and detailed canvas of Indian life. Seth's erudition too becomes clear from his excellent rendition of the ghazals of Ghalib and Mir into English during, perhaps, my favourite section of the book which was the musical performance given by Saeeda Bai in Mahesh Kapoor's house. Simply wonderful!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Suitable Story, 12 May 2006
By 
Beena Sodhi "Beena" (Kent, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
You can compare the opening introduction scene at the wedding to the Godfather, but the characters here are more evolved and lovable, it's as if you are meeting them yourselves. Set in post-independence, a new India has been portrayed positively and the era that if I could, would like to visit. Although the story has some shocking elements of relations between Hindu and Muslim, it's very real and matter of fact, which you can compare to Bombay 1994. There were moments when I had to put the book down as I was in complete shock of the twists, and there were times when I got so dissolved in the romantic story that I had to read rather than sleep! All angles of the characters' story are covered, and we even get a guest appearance from a very famous politician. The book finishes with a very 'Indian' conclusion, which is perfect, as you actually believe that this happened and forget that this is all fiction
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vikram Seth - in my eyes - with A Suitable Boy is a worthy rival to Dickens, 26 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: A Suitable Boy (Paperback)
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. The story is very well written - with much humourous insight. It tells of aof a mother's search to find a suitable boy for marriage to her youngest daughter - and all the possible suitors who are suitable - and their family connections. It shows how religion plays such a major part in Indian families daily life - and how religion used un-wisely - can keep people apart and cause violence and brutality. This book covers almost the whole spectrum of Indian society from the poverty of the hopeless poor to the arrogance of the nouveau riche. Their are no loose ends left to be tied - which usually frustrate an avid reader - nothing is forgotten and each little story is ended to complete satisfaction. Vikram Seth is a genius - and a poet too. It may be one of the longest novels ever written but once the reader begins to read it is impossible to put down. I cannot wait for the sequel.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An utterly unmatchable read!, 6 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (Paperback)
I have never before read a book which gives such an insight into the lives of its characters. As the book went on I found myself thinking "What will Mrs Rupa Mehra think of this latest development" and just like a film I was with each of the characters as they went through every joy, sadness,pride and fear. Any spare moment I had when I wasn't reading, was spent brewing over the most recent events I had unfolded. When I finished this book, which by the way despite its weight had been my constant companion for the best part of a month, I felt at such a loss. I didn't read for ages afterwards as I had to think about it. Thank you Vikram for such a compelling read. It will stay with me as the 'best book I've ever read.' And whoever is reading this go out right now, don't hesitate, and buy this book. After reading it for so long you will know all its people intimately-like old friends!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth your time, 23 Dec. 2011
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (Paperback)
A Suitable Boy has been on my "must read" list for many years - finally I have got round to it. For the past five weeks I have been immersed in the fictional town of Brahmpur, India. It is a long book (Wikipedia helpfully tells me that it's one of the longest novels ever written), but for the most part it was easy to read and it held my attention throughout.

The book opens with a family wedding which unites the Mehra and Kapoor families. Lata Mehra is the younger sister of the bride and it's her mother's determination to find "a suitable boy" for her daughter to marry that will become one of the main storylines of the novel. The scope widens though, firstly to encompass the other members of the Mehra and Kapoor families, and then their friends and colleagues and then wider still to cover the events of the time that influence their lives. In this way the book manages to be simultaneously both intimate and epic and to take in the broad canvas of 1950s India: both Muslims and Hindus, politicians and peasants, holy men and courtesans, city-dwellers and villagers, traditional and modern ways. There is a broad cast of characters and occasionally it can be confusing but family trees at the beginning of the book help you to keep track of who's who.

I love books that are set in India: two of my favourites have been A Fine Balance and Shantaram. This wonderful book has leapt into my all time top 10. It's hard to summarise it better than the quote from the Times which features on the cover: "Make time for it. It will keep you company for the rest of your life".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 31 May 2010
By 
Jennifer Malsingh (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (Paperback)
There is only one problem with this book - once you get to the end, you will wish it was just a little longer so you could spend more time with the fantastic cast of characters you have met along the way.

Very broadly it could be described as a love story. But it is neither a story of love alone, or of even one kind of love. It is about brotherly love, sisterly love, the love of a mother for her son or daughter, the love of a husband for his wife, the love of an uncle for his nephew, of a man for his friend. Forbidden love, unwanted love, unrequited love, selfless love - they are all here.

The book covers a period of time from the marriage of one daughter, through the search for a suitable boy for her sister and finally to the second daughters marriage. In this time we are introduced to a vast array of different characters; some relatives, some friends and some just passers by; and exposed to a variety of different events - some good, some tragic.

No character in this book is a shallow shell, an incidental prop to the storyline. Every single person is shown to have multiple facets, and just as in real life it can soon be seen that none of them are either wholly good or wholly bad. The lay-about ministers son who seems to be born to do nothing shows himself to be an unashamed romantic, a loyal friend and defender of justice. On the other hand, he is also impulsive and prone to taking sudden and tragic action on the spur of the moment. His father's political rival seems to be quite a hardened and bigoted man, but on the other hand we soon see that he is deeply affectionate towards his daughter and misses her greatly now that she lives with her husbands family.

In a similarly realistic fashion, the events that occur in the course of the story unfold slowly in such a way that each preceeding events can be seen to have influenced those that follow. You can be half way through reading about a religious festival, which has been built up to for quite a while before, and suddenly you can see where Seth is leading you with unerring momentum, and it all seems so inevitable and so unavoidable that when something awful happens you feel like you should of expected it all along.

Politics, music, poetry, religion, caste, social obligations, women's rights, history, craftmanship, romance, friendship, family, trust, the expectations that parents have for their children, the exasperation that children have for their parents - these are some of the subjects that that Seth draws upon in this amazing book. His scope varies from the immense subject of post-independence politics to the very personal one of individual prejudices, superstitions and beliefs. From public outrage to family scandal, he seamlessly switches from the effect an event has on the nation to its consequences within a particular group of people. The result is that the book seems to be a living history, even though most of the characters and even the places are fictional. It feels real. It feels like a genuine piece of India.

A joy to read, this is a book that will stay in your mind for a very long time. Both comforting and eye-opening, you are sure to turn to it time and time again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic, 2 Dec. 2012
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (Paperback)
I first read this book when it was originally published and have revisited it many times since. It won't suit everyone's taste as it is long, meandering and covers the day to day lives of it's protagonists in detail. But it is worth perservering with as it provides an insight into India, into people's thoughts and responses to the culture they live in and the difficulties of living up to parental and societal expectations. The characters are well developed, and become part of your world for the duration of the book. Don't expect to read it in a rush, but if you want something to savour then this is the book for you.

Without doubt - for me - this is one of my favourite books; it's a modern classic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Suitable Book, 1 Sept. 2008
By 
Amazon Customer (N Yorks and France) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (Paperback)
If ever a book could bring to life another culture in another time, this is it. Loosely based on the search for the eponymous suitable boy for Lata, the spirited daughter of Mrs Rupa Mehra, the joy of this book is its wonderful characters and locations and, most of all, a sense of life and living in post-partition India.

This is a book in which to luxuriate; to ease yourself into the lives of the characters with whom you will journey over the 1400 pages of exquisite prose. The only reason to put this book down is to give your arms a rest!

I would unreservedly recommend this as my favourite book of the 2nd half of the 20th century. A book for lazy afternoons and long summer evenings. Spellbinding.
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A Suitable Boy
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth (Paperback - 23 Aug. 2004)
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