I finished reading the book ‘A Suitable Boy’ by Vikram Seth today.
I must warn you: To those who haven’t read the book and wish to do so, SPOILERS AHEAD!!
I remember reading a bit of the ‘Golden Gate’ years ago when I was doing English literature and I’d enjoyed that bit. Hence, I was looking forward to reading ‘A Suitable Boy’; particularly as it was recommended by the same friend that recommended ‘A Fine Balance’ which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I was disappointed.
First and foremost, it is a long book of about 1400 and some pages. Unlike ‘Shantaram’, though I read this book in one go. It definitely had it’s good bits with characters such as Maan Kapoor and Meenakshi Mehra and Lata Mehra and Mrs. Rupa Mehra and Firoz and Kabir Durrani and Malati.
The story focuses mainly around Lata and her mother, Rupa Mehra’s search for a suitable boy for her. Lata falls in love with Kabir, a Muslim boy, and therefore, she cannot pursue that love. There is the rest of the family as well and of course, a great deal about politics and India, which has only recently attained independence. I must confess, I tended to skip some of the political shit because it did not interest me in the least.
Lata started off as a promising character — a girl pursuing her university degree, thinking for herself, trying to stand up for herself and her views. But in the end, she disappointed me. She gave in. She married the boy chosen by her mother. And mind you, the character of this guy was distasteful in my opinion, particularly his arrogance and need to name-drop.
It felt pointless.
I am still trying to figure out whether Seth was trying to mock the ridiculousness of Indian society to an extent with having ladies being extremely superstitious and blindly religious. And yet, on the other hand, I wonder whether he was trying to praise this. If he was mocking it, I get it. If not, I’m sorry, but I don’t agree.
I know it was set in the 1950s but why have a strong-willed character, only to have her bow down to pressures of society???? It made the book very anti-climactic. It depicted that mixed marriages don’t work. It depicted that a woman who wants to be independent and who is open-minded. is floozy (via Meenakshi’s character).
And I for one, do not appreciate that.
If you have read the book, I would certainly appreciate your comments and views.
Have I misunderstood or misconstrued the whole thing? Am I missing something???
Until next time,