What a lovely write-up with some clever insights into one of my favourite books. I love how you share your very personal reactions to things. Look forward to following your fiftyfifty.me journey :)
Thank you so much! When I re-read my post, it seems like a real "I" full, but I must schreib etwas and so I do as I'm told and write what I know. :)
You've actually made me want to go back and read it all over again, Stuart - I read (and enjoyed) A Suitable Boy when it was released, but have forgotten it, except in a very rudimentary, superficial sort of way. I've thought off and on that I should read it again, but the sheer size is so daunting...
I totally understand! It will be a while before I go back - time for some light reading now, in every sense.
Some things are so overwhelmingly engaging for me I just never get around to talking about how amazing I found them and I love that you took the time to give A Suitable Boy the love it deserves - a wonderfully weaved reflection of your experience of having read it.LotR, The Count of Monte Cristo and A Suitable Boy are three of the lengthiest tomes I own (yes I got the edition where the trilogy was all in one book) and it was interesting reading how they compared for you. "The Fifth of September" will always remain I think one of the most gripping chapters I've ever read in my life! I really liked your analogy of the jigsaw puzzle, the satisfaction of finding even the most seemingly insignificant mention actually tie into the wider narrative in A Suitable Boy was immensely satisfying as a reader. I can't remember many details some years on, but I do remember feeling like so when reading.
lolwhut? "the satisfaction of finding even the most seemingly insignificant mention actually tie into the wider narrative in A Suitable Boy was immensely satisfying"I just realised what I said. Fail. I blame this one on the overindulgence of napping.
By the by, I was later so delighted to discover how so many of the characters we grew to enjoy in the book were people from the writer's life, even if they were "composites". Yes, yes unsurprising, given how real they felt even in the book, yet it's something else being able to actually see the links of who is who because the writer is relatively open about it.Also about the cleverness - that table of contents could have come off as gimmicky but instead you can tell Vikram Seth is a poet at heart just from that. I really need to find some of his published poetry now that I think about it.
I didn't find the table of contents gimmicky - they were couplets, but not Kakoli couplets. They did help give away the big "reveal" central to the tragedy - I know who was who and the secret would come out as soon as they were introduced, and one of the couplets confirmed it. As for more of his poetry, why not read the novel he wrote in verse? Just don't think you'll sucker me into reading that one too before you see the poet and the prostitute.
I'm still waiting for the sequel he promised....
Thanks for stopping by, memsaab! I too am waiting for the sequel - one of the reasons I was so determined to read A Suitable Boy in 2012 because the infallible and omniscient Wikipedia says that A Suitable Girl is supposed to be out in 2013. I'd also like to see a movie of this one, so that my mind's eye image of Naseeruddin Shah as the Nawab Sahib can be brought to life. :)
That just about prompted a re-read.
That just about made me happy, to know I came so close to doing something worthwhile. :)
Hello Stuart,I was quite pleased to read your comments about Seth's A suitable boy, a book which is also close to my heart, and wondered why you wouldn't critique it as you say, because in fact you do it, and well (even if shortly, given the size of the novel)! Perhaps you'll be interested to read what I'd thought about the book, while it's still fresh on your mind, but contrary to you for example I liked Mrs Mehra very much, I think she's almost the hero of the book, because it is finally her influence which makes Lata choose her "suitable boy"! cheers, yves
Thanks for that, Yves. When I said I wouldn't critique the book, I meant in the sense of assessing the quality of its writing, something I am patently unfit to do. I'm also aware that my reaction to Mrs Mehra, unquestionably a central character, was somewhat idiosyncratic. :)
I totally hear you w.r.t. the distractions while reading - I try and not read on the iPad because then I can easily drift over to FB/Twitter - and that's the end of my reading. I liked A Suitable Boy very much and "The Count of Monte Cristo" is one of my favorites! ASB was quite the tome though - you couldn't just pick it up and go (like you can with paperbacks), you had to think about it, steady yourself and then it heave it up! Seth describes his characters believably - they seem like people I know or could know, although have to say I found his descriptions of the politics of that time tiresome.
Thanks, Amodini! You're absolutely right about the self-discipline needed for a book this size, I think tghat's why I went back to shorter books afterwards in my fiftyfiftyme challenge. I do look forward to returning to ASB though, when I have a lot of free time.
Sigh... It's been years since my last re-read and I don't know if I have a copy currently... But if not I will also repurchase. Somehow I grieve a little that I can never read it again for the first time, such was the joy of that first reading. Hot summer, cool bath, tears streaming, trying not to dunk the edges of the pages into the water. Wrist strained indeed, but heart Happy and head filled with so many words and thoughts and pictures. Gabrielle.
What a delightfully evocative description of the unrepeatable joys of a first reading, thanks for sharing, Gabrielle!