A Suitable Boy

What an achievement for the morning!  I have just finished reading ‘A Suitable Boy‘ by Vikram Seth.  The book is incredible – it makes for rather a long journey, but each character is so well drawn that you feel close to all of them.  And now that I’ve had to put it back on the bookcase, I feel bereft.

Set in India in the early 50’s, just after partition, Seth weaves together law, politics, religion, family and cricket.  The book centres around Lata, a young student at Brahmpur University, and her mother’s quest to marry her off suitably.  The extended family of brothers, sisters, in-laws, grandparents and friends are drawn into finding a ‘suitable boy’ for Lata, of the right colour, religion, and economic status.  In the meantime, Lata meets and falls in love with a young Muslim, Kabir.  Obviously, this relationship is doomed from the beginning, and Lata’s family find her a suitable boy.

This book is Middlemarch meets India, and like Middlemarch, you feel there is so much more to find out about each character after the book ends.  Seth is a master of language, so even though the book’s sheer size can be daunting to begin with, it is truly one of the most rewarding reads I’ve ever had.