A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

In the wake of the stress and flurry of handing in the second draft of my thesis, I have treated myself to finishing A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. I really enjoyed the novel, and I don’t really think it was overly long despite everyone complaining about it. Am I the only person who quite likes long novels? I could happily have sunk into that world for another thousand pages or so! The writing style reminded me a little of RK Narayan, maybe in my head I just associate the two because of their nationality though.

I have to say the ending is a little deflating, I felt like Seth built up the plot and characters beautifully to the point where I could believe in Lata running away and eloping with Kabir. I respected and liked Haresh but I’m not sure that her lack of passion for him wouldn’t be a stumbling block in the marriage. The frustrating thing about life is we only learn about how love works by experience, and by the time we’ve had the experience it’s far too late to do the proper thing! And of course it’s probably different for everyone so it’s no good listening to advice. But despite all this it wasn’t really a tragic ending, it would have been nice if SOMEONE had managed to maintain and have a good passionate relationship though. Nearly all of the characters who followed their hearts instead of their heads didn’t prosper by it. I don’t count Savita and Pran, they weren’t in love to begin with.

I find myself drawn again and again to novels set in India, and this one paints a fascinating picture of the country. I am very impressed by how well crafted the writing, and how the plot never (or at least very rarely) loses its flow. The characters were so vivid they MUST have been drawn from life, but they’ve been very skilfully depicted and I became very invested in their happiness. I will definitely be reading A Suitable Girl when it comes out, and I think I will read some of Seth’s other works too.

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