A SUITABLE BOY
BY VIKRAM SETH
- a book review
This is one huge novel!
I have been meaning to get this novel for the past two years.
Two years! And finally the moment arrived and I got hold of this novel.
It is really huge and I must say I had a hard time trying to read this novel in a supine posture! Better read it sitting.
Now to the novel.
After getting hold of it, one must think that how one is going to complete it?
The story starts with Savitha Mehra's marriage.
Savitha Mehra is the daughter of Ms.Rupa Mehra. Lata, Varun and Arun are Rupa Mehra's other children of which Arun is married.
Savita is getting married to Pran Kapoor , an English Lecturer.
And the guests of the marriage including the brides siblings are dissatisfied with the match since the groom is 'dark'. And a relative wonders aloud about Mrs.Rupa Mehra's 'dark' grandchildren.
This story supposedly happens some years after 1947. (But if a novel has to be made contemporarily, rejecting someone because of being 'dark' is not rare.)
Now, coming back to the core of the story. After having successfully married off her first daughter Savita, Mrs.Rupa Mehra is desperate to find a perfect groom from the certain community for her other daughter, Lata Mehra.
This starts the story which is aptly named ' A Suitable Boy'. And in which Mrs.Mehra is so particular than her daughter. Thus starts a journey of finding a very Suitable Boy by an over enthusiastic mother and a very (in)different daughter!
The striking thing about this novel is - You cannot point out one person as the protagonist. Though Lata Mehra is supposed to be the main character, the author doesn't let others linger behind the screen.
Each and every character gets the main stage at one point of time. But trust me when I say this. It is no way boring. It is like poking into the minds of all the characters before deciding on your favourite character!( Yes! I do that)
And you don't have to depend on your protagonist to fulfill your whims. Be free and choose your person. But this doesn't mean that Lata is somewhat behind other characters.
She is an ultimate role model of a young Indian daughter. She questions the concept of arranged marriage. She wonders how two strange persons can suddenly live together. And she is amazed at her sister for falling in love with her husband after their arranged marriage.
Yet, she wants to fulfill her mother's wish. Her best friend Malati teases her by saying that she will marry whomever her mother says. And how is that remotely possible? Malati feels.
( Even in real life, how is that possible? Being so inquisitive, I really want to know!)
Malati is portrayed as a tom-boy. But not tom-boyish enough to beat her elder sister. Her mother has given her the freedom that even today some mothers doesn't. Malati's mother could be called as a person truly advanced for her period of time.
Like these two characters above everyone are described in detail.
Arun Mehra - The first son of Mrs.Rupa Mehra and he is so bossy!
Meenakshi Mehra(née Chatterjee) - a woman brought up in high class surroundings. But so ill-mannered.
Each character is different. No two could be called similar.
The author has portrayed the characters in a splendid way. And I think that forms the major base of this novel.
Poetry. Poetry forms a huge role in this novel and that is evident with the index page, in which the author have created a poem and each rhyming couplet denotes a chapter and its summary. That was really pleasant to see that and that shows how meticulously this novel has been built.
Each Chapter has various sections and each section (as depicted in the poem) deals with different characters.
Totally a worthy novel to read and enjoy. The experience will be a worthy one and immensely pleasurable.
And the author should be really appreciated for turning our a big one and that too a compulsive. Have never read a huge book which also turned out as a page-turner.
It was a different experience reading it and I hope it will be for you too.
Overall, a very good novel.