This is a remarkable book, and big, so big in fact, that I am taking up a second post for all my remaining remarks. Starting with a quote that I really love:
“She paused by the science shelves, not because she understood much science, but, rather because she did not. Whenever she opened a scientific book and saw whole paragraphs of incomprehensible words and symbols, she felt a sense of wonder at the great territories of learning that lay beyond her – the sum of so many noble and purposive attempts to make objective sense of the world.”
There are a whole slew of characters to meet in A Suitable Boy, yet I didn’t feel confused with them at any point. Partly this is due to my reading a little each day, retaining the thread of who is who, but the four family trees provided, and side characters who are easily associated with certain characters or places helped, and I was rarely troubled placing a character who was returning after 200 pages in the wilderness.
Seth is a big fan of poetry and his playful rhyming couplets are seen throughout, most noticably describing each chapter, and then through the incessant creations of the Chatterji family. There are also myriad references to various Indian mythological works which encourages a deeper reading into Indian mythology. Sprinkled throughout are bits of the local language which was a nice touch, especially when I started to recognise what was being referred to, or which familial names were used to denote relationships.
The plot is unhurried and slowly expands to include all of life and society, it really allows the world to be shown in richness and depth. Whether the reader thinks this much detail is relevant or not, it is certainly worth the exploration and gives the book a much more authentic feel.
There is plenty of conflict, whether it be class, religious and political divides, or generational. Everybody has a prejudice of some sort, whether conscious of it or not. Seth explores all sides of these, offering plenty of insight which has the capacity to bring out both sympathy or revulsion at various times. Continue reading “A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth (Part Two)”