A suitable boy

A Suitable Boy (English and Spanish Edition)A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An extravaganza of a book about life in India, where the theme of young love struggles for air amid the flow of family life; parliamentary politics; land reform at village level; the legal fraternity; poetry, song and literature both English and Indian; and even the shoe trade. It is set in the early 1950s, when Partition and the political resistance to Colonial rule are recent memories, and covers the lives of four middle class families. Lata Mehra is a young woman whose mother is set on finding her a suitable boy. Three candidates emerge. Haresh is good hearted, industrious, smart but not overly imaginative. His former romantic longing for a Sikh girl was suffocated by social prejudice, so he has reluctantly turned to search out a sensible and socially approved marriage partner. Lata herself has a romantic longing for another man, Kabir, and his heart thrills for her too, but he is a Moslem and therefore unthinkable. That leaves Amit, rich, brilliant and charming, a successful poet, and yet rather sterile. The support cast is large indeed, caught up in many subplots; if you are reading a print version you may want to keep notes of who is who and where they appear. Many of the characters are very well drawn, such as the socialite Meenashki and Arun, the overbearing older brother of Lata. [Spoiler alert:] If social prejudice brought tragedy to star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet, here it bring mediocrity.

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