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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

versus
18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Needlessly long with non directional plot
This review will probably go against the grain but I bought this book on the premise that it was an award winning, must read and had not heard a bad thing said about the book. Being a bit of a book worm it didn't take as long to read as I initially thought it would, but I did find the story was more long winded than required. There was no discernable plot as the story...
Published on 12 Aug 2008 by Disco Biskit


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read, 26 Jan 2004
By 
Rohun (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (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
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (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. Having read the book I felt for the first time as if I had an idea of what it would be like to have lived in post-independence India. No other book has taught me as much about a place.
If the book has a flaw it is the ending. I won't give it away, but I feel the book cries out for a sequel. It is as if Seth, having written so much, didn't quite know how to stop. But this is just a minor gripe.
Reading this book is an undoubted commitment, but it more than repays the reader's efforts. The reviews on the book itself are for once no exaggeration. If you make time for it it will, as one review says, keep you company for the rest of your life.
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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 (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Suitable Boy: v. 1 (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
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (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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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 review is from: A Suitable Boy: v. 1 (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The finest work of comtemporary fiction I have read, 23 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (Paperback)
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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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Believe all the rave reviews, 5 Oct 2005
This review is from: A Suitable Boy (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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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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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, detailed, highly recommended, 11 April 2007
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This review is from: A Suitable Boy (Paperback)
I was slightly dubious when I first purchased the book due to the sheer bulk of it - sometimes writers have a habit of droning on an on writing over 10 pages when something can be described concisely in half a page.

Not so with a Suitable Boy, the characters feel so real, by the time I finished I almost felt a sense of loss, like I had made friends and wouldn't be seeing them again. Each character is so different yet their traits conveyed so perfectly.

An excellent book, the attention to detail is impeccable and you feel as if you are in 1950s India and in the characters lives. Vikram Seth is without a doubt a gifted writer and I look forward to reading other work by him.
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A Suitable Boy: v. 1
A Suitable Boy: v. 1 by Vikram Seth (Paperback - 2 Oct 1995)
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