Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Suitable Boy

A Suitable BoyA Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
Evan’s ESS = 6 out of 10
Erin’s ESS =  out of 10
Content = (Adult Content, Violence, Language, Excessive Paper Cuts)

Why: The one thing we can say about A Suitable Boy with absolute certainty is that the novel contains a lot of words.  Weighing in at a generous 591,552 words this novel has only ever been surpassed by a handful of English language competitors.  Who hasn’t wanted to brag to their friends that they’ve read one of the longest English novels ever published in a signal volume?  As an added benefit, by reading the hardcover version you will experience a significant improvement in your bicep and forearm definition, although some lower back pain is expected (pregnant or nursing mothers should consult their family doctor before making a trip to the library).

Even though A Suitable Boy is primarily concerned with the events of four Indian families, we wouldn’t have survived without the family tree at the beginning of the novel.  Not surprisingly, one of the selling points of a long story is that there’s plenty of time to become intimate with the characters and their lives.  On the flip side, of course, it’s often difficult for the reader to feel like the plot is moving forward.  A Suitable Boy fits this model to a T, or at least a capital L.  While the character development is above average and very interesting, the plot does get bogged down by a few political affiliation bla-bla-bla side stories.

On the not so negative side, Vikram Seth has provided a compelling glimpse into post-independent India, which if you’re following along at home, happens to be a couple decades before the events described in A Fine Balance.  We found the story both emotional and real, as each family experiences hardships and victories.  Definitely make a point to read this novel, just make sure your calendar is blocked out for two or three months.

Editor’s Note: We are eagerly anticipating Seth’s follow-up novel, titled with skillful originality: A Suitable Girl. 

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