Customer Reviews


49 Reviews
5 star:
 (29)
4 star:
 (13)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book!
I adored this book about an Indian family, with a sad past, living in Bombay (Mumbai). Roxana's ageing father, Nariman, comes to live with the family in their tiny flat. He has Parkinsons, has broken his leg and is unable to move and requires full caring which Roxana is happy to provide. However, her husband Yezad resents his presence in the flat. He also has money...
Published on 13 Jan. 2005 by vicky allen

versus
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A certain schoolbook simplicity
This book gives insight into life in Bombay for a struggling young family - and the privations and problems of being old in that society too. There is warmth and a kind of innocence in the way the stories unfold, giving a skilfully woven picture of a whole layer of society - its tragedies and comedies, its sadness and joy.

It's a very long book in which much...
Published on 17 Sept. 2009 by Eileen Shaw


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book!, 13 Jan. 2005
This review is from: Family Matters (Hardcover)
I adored this book about an Indian family, with a sad past, living in Bombay (Mumbai). Roxana's ageing father, Nariman, comes to live with the family in their tiny flat. He has Parkinsons, has broken his leg and is unable to move and requires full caring which Roxana is happy to provide. However, her husband Yezad resents his presence in the flat. He also has money worries which later lead him to folly.
The book deals with the caste system, as well as getting old in a really touching way. There is a wonderful passage which moved me to tears when Yezad sets aside his mixed feelings of resentment and respect, and cuts Narimans fingernails, toenails and shaves him. How very true when Yezad is pondering sickness in old age "....But in the end all human beings became candidates for compassion, all of us, without exeption..... and if we could recognise this from the start what a saving in pain and grief and misery."
I cannot recommend this book highly enough, it is written really tenderly but there is also humour and you cannot help but feel anguish for the characters, who, with Mistry's beautiful writing, are real and touchable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A certain schoolbook simplicity, 17 Sept. 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Family Matters: 1 (Paperback)
This book gives insight into life in Bombay for a struggling young family - and the privations and problems of being old in that society too. There is warmth and a kind of innocence in the way the stories unfold, giving a skilfully woven picture of a whole layer of society - its tragedies and comedies, its sadness and joy.

It's a very long book in which much happens to not very much effect, and there is a certain schoolbook simplicity in the way people are portrayed that made me rather impatient to get to the end. This book is not a patch on his later novel A Fine Balance. For true Mistry magic, read that one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clever title, 10 Mar. 2005
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Family Matters (Paperback)
Painted on a much smaller canvas than his earlier novels (Such a Long Journey; A Fine Balance; Tales from the Firozshah Baag), it is a wonderful as the others. It focuses on one family and revolves round the care of the 79 year old patriarch who is crippled and afflicted with progressive Parkinsonism. Though there are some mean-spirited characters in the novel, the affection of others is very touching. The love of the nine year old boy for his grandfather is especially heart-warming. Mistry has the gift of bringing sheer unforced goodness to life like no other writer.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautful, Mournful and Truthful, 12 July 2010
By 
Jennifer Malsingh (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Family Matters: 1 (Paperback)
This wonderfully well written book is about an elderly Parsi gentleman, Nariman, and his family, who all live in Bombay. Nariman suffers from Parkinson's disease, and when he breaks his ankle when out walking, he is almost totally incapacitated. This puts a lot of strain on his family. At first his two step children take care of him, but his step daughter in particular harbours a lot of resentment towards him because of what happened between her mother and him. She thinks up a plan to push Nariman on to his biological daughter, Roxana. But Roxana has two young sons to care for, and money is short. These worries fill her whole family's heads, till her husband Yezad is driven to make a terrible mistake.

Mistry perfectly captures the complex relationships between elderly parents and their grown up children. Yes, there is love, but there is also resentment at having to look after someone who always used to cope on their own, and on top of that there are sometimes mixed feelings about events from the past. And when money becomes an issue, even younger members of the family become so aware of the tension that they feel compelled to try and help out, not always wisely.

'Family Matters' also deals with the issue of the younger generation's feelings about religion and cultural identity. This is particularly important within the Parsi community, as their population (within India at least) is on the decline. Older members of the community are sometimes very insistent that their children marry within the community, whilst often these children are a more Western-looking generation and are not always so interested in preserving religion or tradition - they just want the freedom to love and marry whoever they want. It's a delicate issue, and can be a cause of much heartache and family strife, as we see in this book.

As well as the decline of the Parsi community in India, Mistry also touches on what he perceives to be a decline in Bombay in general, typified by Shiv Sena's fanaticism and intolerance. This gives the book overall quite a desolate, mournful feeling, which is magnified by the occasional flashbacks we are given of Nariman's life, where we find out about his passionate romance with a Goan Christian lady called Lucy, which ended in a tragedy that caused an enormous rift in the whole family.

However, the book is not all doom and gloom. We are also shown the tenderness of Roxana and Yezad's two sons towards their family, and the essential goodness in people such as their violinist neighbour, who plays the violin for Nariman to help soothe him when he is in pain. We also see Yezad slowly change his view toward his own culture. At the beginning of the book he mocks the religious and cultural traditions that other members of his community live by, but as the book goes on he is gradually drawn back to this comforting world or ritual, order and god; proving that even those who have strayed away can return to the fold (though it must be noted that Yezad's return to Zoroastrianism is not all roses - his youngest son notes that he seems to have lost all his joy and humour).

Overall, this is an amazing, honest book. It is not afraid to explore the dark reality of the world it portrays - from the not-so-nice daily chore that Roxana and her family must go through of helping the bed-ridden Nariman go to the toilet, to the grim truth about defying the rules of intermarriage laid down by your elders. Filled with sadness, and also hope, it's a beautiful novel that will remain in your mind long after you finish the final page.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A master of the written word, 24 July 2002
This review is from: Family Matters (Hardcover)
In one of the chapters of this book, there is a description of the letter-writer, the owner of a bookstore who sits on the sidewalk, writing (and reading) letters for people who cannot read or write. Mistry's description of the joy that the written word can bring into peoples' lives stands out as one of the many jewels in this treasure chest of a book.
Other jewels are the old man Nariman's relationship with his grandson, Jehangir, which grows more and more precious as he becomes a bed-ridden fixture in their living room, holding Jehangir's hand at night when their nightmares haunt them. Nariman's returning memories of the love of his life, which was cut short by his marriage to a suitable woman. The lives of his stepchildren, and their feelings about him. The relationship between Nariman and his daughter, Roxana, and her relationship with her husband. They are all described with a most exquisite choice of words and the eyes of a gentle observer.
Rohinton Mistry is indeed a master storyteller, and I pity those who have not discovered his wonderful books!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars “No matter where you go, there’s only one important story., 12 Jun. 2003
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Family Matters (Paperback)
As Mistry makes clear in this novel, the one important story is "of youth, and loss, and yearning for redemption...Just the details are different." With these themes as the bedrock of his story, he depicts the world of a multigenerational Parsi family in Bombay, their world changed forever when Nariman Vakeel, a 79-year-old former professor and sufferer from Parkinson’s disease, falls and breaks his leg, effectively ending any possibility of an independent life. His stepchildren, Coomy and Jal, quickly dump Nariman in the two-room apartment of their younger half-sister, Roxana Chenoy, her husband Yezad, and two sons, supposedly for only three weeks, while his leg heals. Beset with financial problems, lack of space, and resentment of Coomy and Jal, who remain in their father’s 7-room apartment, the family does its best, but tensions rise and slowly erode their relationships, precipitating a number of personal crises for each family member.
Concentrating more on the world writ small than on the broader, more expansive views of A Fine Balance, Mistry creates a number of vibrant and fully drawn characters. Nariman Vakeel, recalling his dreams and disappointments, his 11-year love for Lucy Braganza, and his disastrous arranged marriage, is touching in his neediness and in his apologetic helplessness. His grandchildren delight in his stories and seek ways to help; Roxana makes do in every way possible, tending to his most personal needs; and Yezad, frustrated by the lack of financial support from Coomy and Jal and a job in which he is underpaid, feels jealous of the old man’s claims on Roxana. Mistry’s dialogue, the subtle and not-so-subtle undercurrents it reflects, the often humorous interactions, the honest but naïve motivations of some of the characters, and the meticulously depicted and subtle decline of the family are the work of a master.
The one jarring note for me was the use of Shiv Sena, a fanatic political/religious group as a motif thoughout the novel, their threats, extortion, violence, and fundamentalist rhetoric intruding periodically (and often dramatically) on the lives of the characters. While this obviously broadens the scope of the novel and offers a context in which to evaluate Coomy’s religiosity, the fears of small businessmen like Yezad and his boss, and Yezad’s eventual conflicts with one of his sons, it felt contrived to me, too strong and too obvious in what is otherwise a novel of more subtle interactions. Mary Whipple
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not as good as A Fine Balance, 9 July 2011
By 
Manda Moo (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Family Matters: 1 (Paperback)
I read A Fine Balance a while ago, Family Matters was certainly another great book, but quite up to the same level as Mistry's other book. I still look forward to reading his others though.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family Matters By Rohinton Mistry, 13 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Family Matters (Kindle Edition)
FAMILY MATTERS BY ROHINTON MISTRY

Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry is a very engaging read. The heartbreaking story of Nariman and his loss of love and gradual loss of dignity through Parkinson's disease, leaves the reader sombre.

This is a novel which everyone can relate to with ease; real life, soul destroying family matters! The author's ability to portray such wonderful vivid characters enables the reader to be there in the tiny flat, to hear Nariman's sobs of grief and despair and to feel the changing tension as the days and weeks past by.

The various relationships between the characters are brilliantly illuminated throughout the story. The breaking of Nariman's ankle sets in motion the huge change that is to envelop Roxie and Yezad's entire existence and seriously challenge their relationship.

Murad and Jehanger's accounts of how their lives are dramatically changing and yet enhancing by their grandfather's arrival to the flat cast an interesting light on this aspect of the story and heightens the readers' desire to turn every page of this wonderful novel.

The book contains so many relevant `family matters'. Roxie's undeniable adoration for her father, and indeed Nariman's obvious love favoured towards Roxie. The way Coomy and Jal behave towards Nariman initially, is shocking and shameful, however Jal does redeem himself somewhat as the book progresses.

Nariman possesses huge generousity of Spirit. He is a formidable character and the reader can feel his deepening sad loss of his ill fated love with Lucy. Coomy's bitterness towards Nariman is tangible she obviously feels great anger over the way Nariman has treated her mother, and she would have witnessed the heartache her mother endured knowing Nariman and Lucy were deeply in love.

Yezad's reluctance to assist Nariman with the bed pan, gives the reader a clue as to how his warped character is likely to sway into extremism, hence by the end of the novel, Yezad's renewed obsession with religion alienates him from his family. It is wonderful to witness the two boys; Murad and Jehanger standing up to their father and remaining strong and supportive to Roxie. Their unrelenting love for their grandfather is also very moving as is their early relationship with Yezad before the impact of the overcrowding.

Yezad's relationship with his employer is crucial to the story. His loyalty and honesty, vital attributes to his Parsi heritage, are greatly challenged as he is forced to deceive his employer and then witness the catastrophic events which follow his big mistake. When Jehanger is a `homework monitor', he too, is challenged to forgo his honesty when he choses to take money from the wealthier more lazy children. The very fact that both these acts of deception were done for all the right reasons eases the readers' mind about the actual wrong doing, however their actions also highlighted how tough their lives have become when they stoop so low to do something so against their very nature.

The strengths and weaknesses of all Rohinton's characters give a very good account of how people all over the world relate to each other within the family circle. There will always be the kind, unwavering, dedicated one; such as Roxie, who lavishes love to everyone, and as the story shows she receives love back in abundance. Then you have the bitter, resentful, mean character of Coomy who harbours past wrongdoings to fuel her anger and distaste at those she feels responsible, and this just serves to drive a wedge deeper between the person she wants to be loved by and her own bitter self. Jal, the weaker of the two, who takes so long to build up the courage to stand up for what he believes in and to at last, do the right thing. His life improves dramatically once he stands his ground and begins to bring extra food to the flat. His love for Daisy is evident and blossoms more and more every time he sees her and listens to her play.

The novel also highlights the fact that so many people can be leading two very different lives. Jezad's employer is the obvious one that springs to mind. He is a baby at work; he behaves in a sometimes infantile manner. His relationship with Jezad is like a tonic to him when we read about the horrible nature of the wife he goes home to every evening. She manipulates him entirely.

To sum up; "Family Matters" by Rohinton Mistry is a highly recommended read. I found the book real, entertaining, and graphic. The novel highlights very clearly how `Family Matters' are been lived across the globe regardless of geographic location, the family dimensions are the same the world over. I would score this book a worthy 9 out of a possible 10.

Reviewed honestly by The Mother Booker
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good but rather unhappy book, 6 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Family Matters: 1 (Paperback)
Mistry is a marvellous writer. He is a master story-teller and has the gift of associating you with his characters, as though they were members of your family. When I read "A Fine Balance", I found it most disturbing, as I had become close to the four main characters. "Family Matters" has the same effect.
It is necessary to explain the family structure to convey the feel of the book. The main characters are Parsi. The patriarch is Nariman, 79-years old, suffering from Parkinsons and frail. He entered into an arranged marriage, when he was 42, to a widow, Yasmin, who already had a son and daughter, Jal and Coomy, and they then had a daughter Roxana.
Nariman had wanted to marry Lucy, a Goan Christian, but both families objected. Lucy continued to pursue Nariman after he had married, with tragic consequences for both Yasmin and herself. Coomy blamed her step-father for this outcome and would not forgive him.
Roxanna is married to Yezad and they have two sons, Murad and Jehangir, 13 and 9 at the beginning of the story.
Nariman lives with Coomy and Jal in a seven-room dilapidated flat (which Nariman has given them), while Roxana and her family live in a tiny two-roomed flat, bought for them by Nariman as a wedding present.
Only Yezad works and they are all poor.
When Nariman breaks his ankle and becomes bed-ridden, Coomy does not want to continue to look after him, persuading Roxana to take him in as a short-term measure, which Coomy then conspires to make permanent.
The author records the growth of love and affection over the ensuing months. Particularly touching is the love between Jehangir and his grand-father, the kindness of a neighbour, Daisy, playing her violin to an ailing, then dying, Nariman and Yezad, moved by his renewed faith and the realisation that the elderly need love and compassion, shaving, cutting the nails of and administering the bedpan to Nariman- deeds he had previously steadfastly avoided.
The author makes you worry about both Yezad's gambling and his plotting promotion- you know they will go wrong, as will Jehangir's venture into "crime".
This very good book is not without its flaws. The last part, written for some reason in the first person, I found unsatisfactory. But the real problem is that Mistry does not "do happy" -Shades of "A Fine Balance" all over again. Violent deaths abound, Yezad becomes a religious zealot and the possible romance between Jal and Daisy does not come about. Instead, Jal, having been the inspiration for the improvement in the family's living and financial position, is now virtually confined to his room by Yezad's religious extremism.
At the very end of the book Roxana asks Jehangir "Aren't you happy?". I would have replied "definately not"; as Jehangir says himself, whatever happened to his father's joy and humour?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I still think about them all, 27 Feb. 2010
By 
Morag - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Family Matters: 1 (Paperback)
I recently read this book, and have read about half a dozen other books since I finished it, and I can still remember all the characters and their names. For me this is the sign of a great writer, to make me care so much that I still ruminate on the story. It is written in an easy style, and I almost feel like I spent the time in Bombay.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Family Matters
Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry
£5.69
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews