Book Review: A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

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Every once in a while you come across a book that you never imagined you would be sad to see end – especially when it is fifteen hundred pages long. For perspective, none of the Harry Potters were that long!

Some books are liked because they are situational based, some because the author is the flavour of the season. Then there are books which are simply timeless. This is one such book – fifteen hundred pages of pure joy and discovery!

This was my second time reading it. I last read it nearly five years ago. I wanted to read it again to see if my opinions about which boy was actually ‘suitable’ had changed (spoiler: it had not). However, this reading did make me realise ways in which I have changed – which was surprising and great to know just the same.

The first time I loved it for its characters and the plot. The book slowly walks you into the lives of its characters until they feel like family. The opening scene which is a wedding will now always remind me of my sister’s. There are so many lovable and not so lovable characters, if you wanted a fun game you could try to map them to yourself and the people you know in your lives! 

This time, I love it because it inspired in me an irresistible urge to know more about the history of my country. It spurned me to know more about politics. I can honestly say I am quite out of my depth in these two subjects. It also made me realise that, I now firmly believe, there can be two sides to a story and both can be equally true – though (of course) not always.

I am now beginning to wonder – can I really be the great lover of books that I claim to be when I don’t even know anything about these two topics? Can I truly criticise literature without any understanding of the context (history) and potential defiances/allegiance (politics) that could, in a lot of cases, change the narrative of the story? 

Well, I am just going to have to improve my history and politics knowledge and give this book another go in the next five years.

Also, if this book were to be made into a movie, Varun Dhawan would be such an excellent character to play Maan. I just really had to get that out there on the internet.

I would definitely recommend reading this book if you are in the mood to question your knowledge and competence. I would also recommend it if you are in the mood to experience a slow romance and heartbreak unfold. If you are a history and politics enthusiast – you would love this book despite all the romantic nonsense. If you are up for a challenge, if you want to improve your patience, if you want to brag about a big book you read, if you believe there is no good Indian author in this world (why would anyone think that) – by all means, this is the book for you!

If you read it or have read it, let me know what this book meant to you in the comments below!

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