Monday, July 24, 2006
A Suitable Boy
This book has been on my bedside shelf for ages now.. and i finally got to see the end of it..(never thought that would happen so fast)..after reading An Equal Music, the beginning of A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth didnt seem too impressive.. i thought i was in for a major let down. When the voluminous novel began to resemble a major weekday afternoon bollywood soap, i was even more skeptical. Powerful families with political ties, arrogant daughter-in-law tearful mother-in-law combinations, The ideal responsible son bearing family responsibilities, a black sheep, extra marital affairs, high society pseudo lifestyle, illicit love affairs and i thought i was watching re-runs of some hindi soap i had caught glimpses of during school vacations. IT was hard to beleive that the idea for this novel was construed by the same ingenious mind that had come up with An Equal Music..was that even humanly possible?? Two novels without even the sightest trace of similarity.. two totally different settings, totally different language styles, totally different styles of narrations..and the list can just go on and on..
In spite of all these apprehensions, i continued to read A suitable Boy coz of the rave reviews.. i just had to see what made this book such a favourite. And surely, if not for the volume i guess i wouldnt have been dissapointed. The main story line revolving around lata and the hunt for a suitable boy for her is rather entertaining and eeriely close to home.. Makes you realise that arranged marriages all over tend to happen the same way.. and all girls tend to feel the same way about the whole marriage deal. The fact that a male can totally capture and explain the feelings a girl undergoes during such times is rather fascinating..
Another commendable aspect about the book, is the way seth has handled the enormous cast of characters. Each character, however minor in order of appearance in the novel, is unique and easily distinguishable.
Though i thoroughly enjoyed this line of the story, the million side stories got me rather tired of the book.. i mean, i might have completely enjoyed reading a novel about the life of maan and his friends and his wayward life style..but that coupled with lata's boy hunt and a generous serving of indian politics was quite an overdose.
Inspite of the length of the book, nothing ever happens.. really.. that was one other aspect of the novel that reminded me of a soap, miss a hundred episodes and get back to it after a couple of months and nothing much would have really happened.. well, that was the case with this one too. There are so many parts of the book that just faded into nothing-ness.. constant references to meenakshi's infidelty make you wonder how the whole issue would end and when the novel finishes you suddenly realise that nothing whatsoever has been done to that issue. and then you realise that amybe thats life.. not every thing gets resolved and ends in a rather fairy tale kinda way. The way lata finally chooses one of her 3 suitors seems rather abrupt.. seems like she could have put in a little more thought to such a life altering decision..but then again, dont we all do what she's done?
As you can see, i have mixed emotions about this book. Cant proclaim that i love it but at the same time, i cant write it off as trash.
Overall, A suitable boy - unsuitably verbose.