It’s one thing to know and understand family trees, but a completely different thing to weave a completely new family tree, make each and every character in that family tree interesting without losing the plot of the story and keep your readers hooked for more than fifteen hundred pages. Only a versatile writer like Vikram Seth can write something as delightful as the Frog and the Nightingale and The Tale of Melon City which were so morally satisfying and then write something like ‘A Suitable Boy’ which is both structurally complex and pleasing at the same time.
At its heart, the book is about family. However, it touches upon every worldly aspect from marriage to politics to love to career and lightly brushes against the emotional facet of the human mind. It draws you into the world of Prem Nivas, Mrs. Rupa Mehra’s letters, Saeeda Bai’s songs, Kabir and Lata’s boat rides, Bhaskar’s curiosity and Harish’s tenacity.
It is not an easy read, mind you. You must remember the characters and the plot lines. You must have the desire to read about everything and anything under the sun and you must be prepared to read a book that is longer than most books you must have read.
The story is not heavy. It is a fairly easy read with words that calm rather than excite. Even the most complicated feelings are dealt in the most delicate manner. The best part is that the fifteen hundred pages and Mrs. Rupa Mehra’s worries are completely worth it in the end and after you finish the book you will feel intellectually satisfied and emotionally calm.
Sit with this book in your pajamas and a cup of tea. Trust me, you will feel like you are a part of Prem Nivas and that you are actually living the post Independence life.