2019 Group Read: A Suitable Boy

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2019 Group Read: A Suitable Boy

Redigeret: dec 30, 2018, 2:27 pm


Welcome to the 2019 Group Read of A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth!

The book is sectioned off into 19 parts, which makes it perfect for a 2019 reading challenge thematically; and it turns out that if we read each section over the course of 19 days each, it will take us 361 days!

These are the tentative check-in days:

19JAN - PART 1
07FEB - PART 2
26FEB - PART 3
17MAR - PART 4
06APR - PART 5
25APR - PART 6
15MAY - PART 7
03JUN - PART 8
22JUN - PART 9
11JUL - PART 10
30JUL - PART 11
18AUG - PART 12
06SEP - PART 13
25SEP - PART 14
14OCT - PART 15
03NOV - PART 16
22NOV - PART17
11DEC - PART 18
30 DEC - PART 19

Clearly, I must have fudged a date here or there because I'm pretty sure there are 365 days in the year, and this schedule takes up 364 instead of 161! But it can be corrected as we go along. Also, if we find that the schedule is too slow or too fast, in part or in whole, we can make adjustments accordingly!

The whole idea is to tackle this book and enjoy it, and hopefully share any insights, feelings, anecdotes, recipes... that might occur to us along the way!


This was a 2017 Second Quarter Group Read and if you're interested, you can read their thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/253469

dec 30, 2018, 2:33 pm

Thank you for setting up the group read thread! My copy already has pride of place on my bedside nightstand. Cannot wait to start reading. Only 2 more sleeps!

dec 30, 2018, 3:57 pm

Thank you! I've also got the book on my nightstand!

Redigeret: jan 1, 2019, 1:34 pm

Thank you! My book is on its way from Amazon!

dec 30, 2018, 7:44 pm

Looking forward to re-reading this one! If I can just find my copy somewhere . . . . My sister (not a reader) got me A Suitable Boy for Christmas many years ago as she knew I loved books on India and it was the biggest book she could find!

And then next year, we can read A Suitable Girl, 800 pages long!

dec 31, 2018, 5:22 am

>5 JayneCM: Oh my goodness, I'd forgotten about A Suitable Girl! Squeeeeeee!

dec 31, 2018, 5:55 am

>6 Jackie_K: I haven't read it yet, so looking forward to reading them both fairly close together.

dec 31, 2018, 6:40 am

I've found my copy, but haven't had a lot of actual reading time (other than audiobooks), so hopefully I can get this read!

dec 31, 2018, 8:28 am

>7 JayneCM: A Suitable Boy is one of my all time favourite books, ever. I can't remember a book where I've cared so much about every single character, major and minor.

jan 5, 2019, 11:27 pm

I've slowly dipped into part one. There are already quite a few characters to keep track of.. I'm going to start a list.

The garden at Prem Nivas is described beautifully.

Redigeret: jan 6, 2019, 1:47 pm


Namaste! It's a cold, Sunday here and the perfect time to snuggle up next to the fireplace and read the afternoon away!

The first Part of 'A Suitable Boy' has 19 sections to it, so I've planned it so that I read one section a day before the first check-in. Each section is only a couple of pages long, which makes it easy for me to tackle first thing in the morning while my DH and daughter fuss around the house getting ready for their respective days (I work from home.)

I have a paperback edition sitting on my nightstand. In the US, I do not see an e-book edition available nor an unabridged recording. I see a BBC audio drama that clocks in at 5.75 hours which I might pick up after I finish reading the book but I wouldn't count it as reading the book (For the record, I do NOT consider audiobooks as cheating, but audio dramas are something else altogether!)

So, the paperback edition I have is about 2.5" thick and weighs 2 lbs 9 oz on my kitchen scale! For now, as it's sitting on my nightstand, this doesn't pose a particular problem, but if I travel at any point during the year, I may scan the sections I want and either just take those pages as a printout or read them as a pdf on my iPad.

I'm up to section 1.6 as of this morning and I'm surprised at how easy-going this is! If you're getting a late start, it shouldn't take you long to catch up at all!

Redigeret: jan 18, 2019, 6:18 pm


Before we get into this today, I want to mention that I do not cook. My DH bears the burden, often with aplomb and a sense of adventure but I am a disaster in the kitchen! So, the photos here are shots that I took while he was preparing a dinner of Hara Bara Kebabs with Burnt Lime Raita (potato pancakes with a lime-flavored yogurt sauce.) The recipe comes from the cookbook, Fresh India (by Meera Sodha)


A mix of potatoes, cumin, Indian green chiles, ginger, and spinach....


Plus some peas, chickpea flour*,lemon juice, salt, masala, ansd cilantro...

* If you can't find chickpea flour at your grocer's, you can make some by grinding chickpeas in an old coffee grinder (I wouldn't use the same grinder for both spices and coffee unless you have a tremendous sense of intrepidness when it comes to your morning coffee!


The mash-up...


The yogurt sauce: The black flecks are nigella seeds (black onion seeds.) In the back, the cookbook is open to the page and picture of the recipe and finished product respectively.

They didn't turn out too bad! Our potato pancakes were lumpier than pictured but still really tasty!

jan 13, 2019, 12:09 am

>12 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Yum! I love Indian food! What a great idea - I will be getting out my Indian cookbooks as well.

jan 14, 2019, 9:47 pm

I read *most of* this book many years ago. And then, less than 100 (or maybe 200) pages from the end, I stopped reading.

What was I thinking?? I very much enjoyed what I read. I might reread this year.

jan 15, 2019, 6:46 pm

I think it's time to stop over-looking this book (because of it's length) and finally dig in. I will start this weekend.

jan 15, 2019, 6:49 pm

>12 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Except for the ginger (I am probably the only person in the world who is allergic to ginger), that looks delicious! I love the idea of pairing a book with traditional food.

jan 17, 2019, 10:54 am

lkernagh mentioned the year-long read on her 75ers thread, so here I am! I've pulled my Rs500 Penguin Books India trade paperback off the shelf, all 1349 pages of it. I have no idea who donated it to the Friends of the Library where I bought it, but I'll give it a go.

jan 17, 2019, 11:36 am

>17 karenmarie: Hello and Welcome! I bought my copy three years ago with great ambitions and finally decided it was time to tackle it! I'm eager to hear what you think of it and any point during the read :-)

jan 17, 2019, 12:26 pm

Thanks, Tanya. I'm participating in a group read of These Truths by Jill Lepore and just finished the first section, giving me some breathing room until February 1. I hope to get immersed in A Suitable Boy in this time. And here, even before the book begins, something wonderful!


To these I owe a debt past telling:
My several muses, harsh and kind;
My folks, who stood my sulks and yelling,
And (in the long run) did not mind;
Dead legislators, whose orations
I've filched to mix my own potations;
Indeed all those whose brains I've pressed,
Unmerciful, because obsessed;
My own dumb soul, which on a pittance
Survived to weave this fictive spell;
and, gentle reader, you as well,
The fountainhead of all remittance.
Buy me before good sense insists
You'll strain your purse and sprain your wrists.

Redigeret: jan 17, 2019, 12:49 pm

>19 karenmarie:

"Buy me before good sense insists
You'll strain your purse and sprain your wrists."


jan 18, 2019, 1:28 am

I'm running a bit behind, but will try to catch up.

Redigeret: jan 19, 2019, 1:39 am


_________________________Kedar Ghat at Varanasi (A ghat ("gawt") is a flight of steps that leads down to the river)


Welcome to "Step" 1/"चरण 1 !

First let me be honest: I blew off reading "A Word of Thanks' and the (Table of) Contents at the beginning and went straight to the story! It wasn't until >19 karenmarie: posted about "A Word of Thanks" that I went back to take a look at it! And, wow! It hit me that I was looking at a poem, a modern sonnet in fact! It's fourteen lines in a ABAB/CCDD/EFFE/GG form. And then I took a look over on the next page and realized that the TOC was actually composed of nineteen couplets! I don't know that it means anything, but I thought it was clever and amusing #mindblown

In >10 luvamystery65: mentioned that she was starting a list to keep track of the characters. In Part One, we've been introduced to about a dozen characters. How are you keeping track?
I've referenced the family tree a couple of times but for the most part I've been able to keep track by associating the characters with other people or known characters. For instance, Mrs. Rupa Mehra became the Indian version of Mrs. Bennett from Pride and Prejudice! Likewise, Savita became Jane Bennet, Praan became Charles Bingley, Lata = Elizabeth Bennet, and maybe Maan will be Darcy? But I can't expect the analogy to hold up; and the encounter in the bookstore was filled with flirtatious promise ;-)

I think my mind went to Pride and Prejudice quickly because of the opening line, "'You will marry a boy I choose.' said Mrs Rupa Mehra firmly to her younger daughter."
It's a strong OL, setting out what the book is about and the tone immediately not unlike Austen's OL for P&P, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
And of course, both women are talking of marriage for their daughters.

As for the story itself, right now I'm disgusted with Meenakshi for the business with the medals, wary of Malati and her crush (please, don't let this go where I think it might!) but rooting for Varun, Lata, and even Maan despite his "dissolute ways." And of course, the boy in the bookstore ;-)


This afternoon, I was playing around with images and put together this BOOKMARK for the group. It's a high resolution PNG that looked terrible when I posted it to LT so I posted it to my blog instead. You can gab the image and print it out if you like. If you do print it out at home, print to 30% scale for a bookmark size :-)

jan 19, 2019, 6:13 pm

I tried to figure out if A Word of Thanks was a type of sonnet or not, but got bogged down in rhyming schemes and gave it up. I'm glad to hear that it is, and in addition to being couplets, the Table of Contents seems to be a summary of important plot points -

Browsing through books, two students meet one day.
A mother mopes; a medal melts away.

I only looked at the first one in detail and saw that the others were couplets - they might be spoilers so I deliberately didn't read them!

Clever man.

I've been immediately drawn into the story and finished Part 1 about an hour or so ago. I made a copy of the family trees pages (it all fit onto an 8.5" x 11" page for those of us here in the US) and have resorted to it several times so far. Thanks for the bookmark - I'll have to figure out how to print it and get it laminated. My printer doesn't do thick paper very well.

jan 24, 2019, 10:58 pm

I am a little behind but managed to finish Part 1 this evening. I am already loving this story and the overall feeling of a sweeping family saga. I am not having too much difficulty keeping track of the characters so far, but if they keep introducing more, I may need to resort to some kind of cheat sheet. I have to admit that I tend to giddy with delight when a story references something I am personally fond of, so I was tickled to see, on the very first page of story, that Mrs Rupa Mehra scents her handkerchief with 4711 eau-de-Cologne: my favorite fragrance ever since I was a teenager and one I continue to wear to this day. Made me smile, that did!

A couple of things stood out for me in Part 1 (keeping comments spoiler-free):
- the opulence of the wedding was wonderful, but the fact that guests tend to mill around eating and drinking while certain aspects of the wedding ceremony are underway - making it more a social event that a focus on the wedding party - is not something I have ever experienced before so I found that rather interesting.
- Arun influence (control) as head of the family is interesting as he seems to assume a level of control as a right and for the most part, that control seems to be obediently acquiesced to Arun by most members of the family. I see problems lurking there, and his wife (Meenakshi) is definitely a handful.
- Pran and the university syllabus committee. Some very interesting dynamics going on there. I was particularly intrigued by the authors and books being discussed.

Looking forward to reading Part 2 and getting more involved with the characters and the stories.

Redigeret: jan 27, 2019, 2:42 pm


Good morning/afternoon!

When I was a kid, I never, never, ever marked up a book! I had God, Jesus, Mary, all the apostles and saints, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the priests and nuns of my parish, librarians, parents, and quite possibly the CIA looking at everything I did and needless to say, not only did I develop an unusually high sense of paranoia, but highlighting or even penciling in a comment in the margins was just an impossibility for me!

To this day, almost every text that I read, I try to keep in pristine condition but I have allowed myself the indulgence of marking up a couple of books. This is one of them! If this were a First Edition and/or Signed by the Author or a Special Edition in some way, I would be careful not to break the spine, refuse to lend it out, and no food would be consumed during the reading thereof. But in this case, I have the fourteenth run of a reprint edition, and really, there's no after-market value for it so I'm comfortable with breaking it in and annotating it. I use a pencil, a "Bible" highlighter (it's a wax pen as opposed to an ink pen so it doesn't bleed through the pages,) and the little sticky notes as interstitial bookmarks.

What do I mark up? Mostly unfamiliar vocabulary words, things I want to google images for (to see what they look like,) and a passage or a quote that I want to get back to...

Does anyone else markup or take notes? What do you use? Old School journals? Cloud documentation? For the e-reader there, can you e-annotate the text?

Some of the vocabulary words I've looked up: (answers copied from a google definition or Wikipedia line)

ghat ghāṭ (in South Asia) a flight of steps leading down to a river. (See post#22 above!)
bhang भांग an edible preparation of cannabis originating from the Indian subcontinent.
haveli a traditional townhouse or mansion in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh, usually one with historical and architectural significance.
chaat चाट a savory snack that originated in India, typically served as an hors d'oeuvre at road-side tracks from stalls or food carts across the Indian subcontinent in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
Paan a preparation combining betel leaf with areca nut widely consumed throughout Southeast Asia, Taiwan, and South Asia.
Chaupar a cross and circle board game very similar to Pachisi, played in India.
lakh lakh a hundred thousand.

I've been reading a sub-section a day so I'm well into Part Two. I'm becoming more immersed in the color and pageantry of India and getting a glimpse (through context) at what the Partition was all about. On the 2017 thread, several members mention the movie, Viceroy's House which I will try and track down and watch this week. It covers the end of British Colonial rule and a bit into the Partition.

Happy Reading!

feb 1, 2019, 3:42 am

>25 Tanya-dogearedcopy: That is so funny as I am exactly the same! I often cringe if someone else picks up and wants to borrow one of my books, especially if it is a new one, as I make sure to NEVER crack the spine! I get the twitches if I see someone folding a book over as they read, or putting it facedown on the table open at the page, or turning down the corners of the pages as a bookmark.
I still have not managed to find my copy of A Suitable Boy - I'll keep looking.

feb 1, 2019, 11:46 am

I just today received my book! I am going to try to get caught up and participate!

feb 1, 2019, 12:53 pm

>26 JayneCM: It's not too late to join in whenever! The chapters are short and the material extremely accessible :-)

>27 Tess_W: YAY! It should take you no time at all to catch up! Post when you can :-)

feb 2, 2019, 8:32 am

>25 Tanya-dogearedcopy: The only books I ever marked were college textbooks, highlighting and underlining with abandon. These days I either use out-of-date Friends of the Library bookmarks which are medium-thickness tagboard with a blank back and write down page numbers and quotes or keep a Word document with the same info.

I've been disappointed with how loaned books have been returned to me over time so that now I only loan books to my daughter and my friend Louise, who both are very careful with them. And then there is the dear friend who has twice thought she's returned my book to me - the first one is a dead loss but the second one she bought a new copy for me. No more books for her, and I do not offer books to anyone else.

So far I've only written down one page number with the following, "Every object strives for its proper place. A book seeks to be near its truest admirer." Since page numbers will vary by copy, it's in section 2.20, paragraph 6, Maan speaking to Saeeda Bai.

I'm doing quite a bit of online checking of terms and use of YouTube for examples of particular musical types. I only read this book in my home office using a marvelous little pillow called The Book Seat. The book rests comfortably in it and I can turn to the computer to quickly check anything that catches my fancy.

To me the online information about Partition seems confusing.

I've just finished Part 2. So well written, so interesting and detailed. This is definitely a book to savor, and I'm perfectly happy to stretch it out over the year.

feb 2, 2019, 9:44 am

From the discussion here I'm thinking I need to get the library's copy and try the book.

feb 2, 2019, 11:47 am

>30 hailelib: VivenneR posted this link on my thread for borrowing this book. I have the copy >25 Tanya-dogearedcopy: has so I'm reading it old school style as well.

"For anyone interested: A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth in e-book format is available to borrow (for free) from the Internet Archive at https://archive.org

I don't know which countries can borrow, it's US based."

VivenneR is in Canada and was able to borrow.

feb 2, 2019, 10:44 pm

I tried at the above site and was placed on a wait list. I have the big honking book of 1450+ pages which is too big to hold and manipulate. It's unavailable for e-readers in US Amazon and there is an Audible but it's just 4 episodes of the PBS very abridged audio. I can't read the book as is....I've tried for a week......so..........I've torn it apart at the spine in about 30 page sections.........aghast.....not really.....it was a used book to begin with. If I didn't do this, I would not be able to read this particular book. As far as marking up books...I don't do that (LOL), I have kept a journal since the 1980's with all the words I have looked up and their meanings. If I really love the book and want to "keep" it, I'll wait to an ebook or an unabridged audio version comes out.

So far.....I love the storyline and the exposure to the Indian culture.

Redigeret: feb 3, 2019, 1:24 pm


_______________ Screen shot of the title card of the Movie 'Viceroy's House' starring Hugh Bonneville as Lord Mountbatten, and Gillian Anderson as Lady Edwina Mountbatten

Over the weekend I found Viceroy's House on Netflix and sat down for an hour and forty-five minutes to watch this historical drama. While it would come as a shock to absolutely no one that this was not an Academy Award winning production, I can absolutely see why there are schools programs built around it: It manages to condense a crucial part of British Colonial History into a concise offering.

Lord Mountbatten and his family are sent to India to oversee the transfer of power from British to Indian hands. Unfortunately, socio-religious conflicts have escalated into violence between Muslims and Hindus (there is also mention of the Sikhs, but it is less clear from the film as to what exactly happens to their concerns.) Caught between Ghandi's dream for a unified India and Jinnah's desire to protect the Muslim minority with the creation of a separate state, Mountbatten's famed diplomatic skills are sorely taxed. Added into the mix are subterfuge from Churchill, the lurking presence of the US, and not least of all, Mountbatten's own moral and ethical stances and sense of duty. Against the political drama is a smaller drama of a young Hindu man in love with a Muslim woman. Their unfolding romance highlights the very real, personal repercussions of the conflict.

Pathé was one of the film's producers, and at the end of the movie, there are a number of Pathé film clips from the time illustrating the time period as well as some facts about the Partition. The film and the documentary-like bits at the end shed an enormous light on the setting of A Suitable Boy which takes place ten years later and I highly recommend taking the time to watch it :-)

>29 karenmarie: I found the online material regarding the Partition as bit dense as well. I also have to admit that I was disappointed that there wasn't a documentary about it.

feb 3, 2019, 1:11 pm

>32 Tess_W: I would normally be aghast but for the same reasons that >25 Tanya-dogearedcopy: decided to mark up her book, I think it's a fantastic idea. I may do the same. Easier to haul around a section than the whole book.

>33 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Have you started watching yet?

Redigeret: feb 3, 2019, 2:05 pm

>29 karenmarie: Oooh! The Book Seat! I just googled it and it looks amazing! My husband, who walked by by computer while I was looking at it online, is very interested (he likes a lot of books that happen to be long and/or oversized.) :-)

>32 Tess_W: and >34 luvamystery65: I thought about cutting up my copy, but I'm not sure the binding will help keep the sections I do cut together! It seems to be just a single layer of glue, and part of the cover is peeling away from the glue strip already. I'm afraid if I cut it into sections, I'll lose pages (I am not the most together person in the best of times) but I may reconsider when it comes to traveling. :-)

>32 Tess_W: Are your sections holding together?

>34 luvamystery65: Yes! We were clearly cross-posting! :-D

feb 3, 2019, 3:46 pm

>35 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I'm careful to make sure I get a glue strip in the tear that will hold them together! So far, the 1st two tears are together and read!

feb 3, 2019, 5:19 pm

>36 Tess_W: I'll keep this in mind when I tear. Also, I have some clear packing tape I can use create a bind. I'll let you know how that turns out.

Redigeret: feb 3, 2019, 7:55 pm

>37 luvamystery65: I find that if I tear 30+ pages I get enough glue to hold it together while I read. Actually, I can't tear 30 pages, not strong enough, but hubby does it. He thinks I'm insane!

feb 5, 2019, 9:02 am

I'm just loving this book!

Redigeret: feb 7, 2019, 2:08 am

_______________Indian Rose, Labeled for Reuse with Modifications


One of the things I want to talk about was the Edenic Prem Nivas, "the abode of love!" It plays center stage (quite literally in Part II!) in both Parts that we've read so far. In Part I (1.5) I was struck by Lata's vision. I've come back to this passage a few times, a truly "cinematic" moment in my head as I imagine the camera zooming out to encompass all of this, but keeping Prem Nivas at its center of focus:

'Prem Nivas' for a start: the abode of love. An idiotic name,
thought Lata crossly, for this house of arranged marriages. And a
needlessly grandiloquent one: as if it were the centre of the
universe and felt obliged to make a philosophical statement about
it. And the scene, looked at objectively, was absurd: seven living
people, none of them stupid, sitting around a fire intoning a dead
language that only three of them understood. And yet, Lata
thought, her mind wandering form one thing to another, perhaps
this little fire was indeed the centre of the universe. For here it
burned, in the middle of this fragrant garden, itself in the heart of
Pasand Bagh, the pleasantest locality of Brahmpur, which was the
capital of the state of Purva Pradesh, which lay in the center of
the Gangetic Plains, which was itself the heartland of India...
and so on through the galaxies to the outer limits of perception
and knowledge. The thought did not seem in the least trite to Lata;...

Later on, in Part II (2.3-2.5) we return to Prem Nivas, in the courtyard where Saeda Bai sings, again creating a magical night of music, poetry and enchantment. It's too early to tell yet, but I wonder if Prem Nivas will remain an oasis where colored lights shine from the bushes, roses bloom a bit early, and flirtations continue until dawn... Or if it will be besieged by time and troubles. It's certainly a contrast to Saeda Bai's own house where everything seems to be tightly controlled, but tends to feel more like a prison than a haven. Prem Nivas also runs in paradoxical opposition to the university: Prem Nivas flows with studied beauty, ghazals, the sounds of the tablas, sarangis, tanpuras and harmoniums; but the school is nearly frozen with bureaucracy and academic politics, a stultifying environment. There's also an interesting contrast in that the Arab singer and her musicians are appreciated even among the Hindus, while the school quibbles over the English curriculum.

There's food for thought too with the parakeet, the Myna's cage, and Saeda Bai herself...

What do you think of Prem Nevas? Any other settings capture your imagination so far?


_______________Pradesh Bagh, Google Maps

_______________Area around Pradesh Bagh, Google Maps (Brahmpur and Purva Pradesh are fictional settings in 'A Suitable Boy')

_______________Gangetic Plains, Google Maps

_______________India, Google Maps

_______________India, Earth, Google Maps

Redigeret: feb 7, 2019, 4:46 pm

... is it safe to come back? Discussions of ripping up books really upset me, as would discussions of turning them into purses or decorations.

I've finished the Part 2 and continue to enjoy it without being terribly analytical about it right now. I shall start part 3 tomorrow.

>40 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Excellent points, Tanya, and the maps are very helpful.

feb 7, 2019, 5:16 pm

>41 karenmarie: So sorry to have upset you.

I was telling my friend Lata that we are reading this book. She is the one that introduced me to pani puri and when it was mentioned early in the book, I thought of her. We are going into Houston and get some in a couple of weeks.

feb 7, 2019, 6:51 pm

>41 karenmarie: Yes! It is safe to come out now :-)

When I was in eighth grade, second semester, our beloved English teacher, Mrs. Z. left on maternity leave. The substitute teacher, Mrs. Leudtke, was a severe woman, who drilled in all the conventions of critical reading into us. Oh, boy. I really hated her for that. I just wanted to read for the pleasures that it evoked. I didn't want to think about foreshadowing or irony or any of that stuff! And when I'm reading for pure pleasure, I still resist it, though Mrs. L. was very effective in prising our brain open and getting the information in there! :-D

>42 luvamystery65: That's rather curious about going to Houston for pani puri!? Ah, I just looked it up and was surprised to learn that there is a rather healthy Indian-American community there! And oh my, I hadn't checked out pani puri before, but it looks delicious and I'm dying to try them! This may be beyond my DH's skill level or patience right now though (He's pretty much in the pressure cooker stage) so I'll have to see if any if the local Indian restaurant might serve them :-)

feb 7, 2019, 9:57 pm

I live in the suburbs of Houston and although we have places that sell pani puri out in the burbs there is nothing like going into Houston proper to get the best.

feb 9, 2019, 12:31 pm

Above.....now I will nag my husband to go out for Indian food. (He's not a fan, but will eat it). I will probably have to fix him liver and onions (yuck) in return!

feb 9, 2019, 7:46 pm

Stopping by to say that I took advantage of a blustery Saturday to read Part II. Interesting to see the shift in narrators - now more focused on Maan and the Kapoor family but with a very interesting focus on the singer, Saeeda Bai. I did enjoy the details about the colourful celebration of Holi. That celebration sounds like a lot of fun, but i can appreciate how some individuals would not like being sprayed with powdered colour or soaked in coloured water, especially if it is cold water!

Getting more entrenched with the setting and more familiar with the characters. I continue to love just how readable this story is.

feb 10, 2019, 12:57 am

>46 lkernagh: I agree, I just finished part II and I'm loving this book.

feb 13, 2019, 7:37 am

I'm going to have to bow out of this read. I really can't focus on the words (font size) even with my glasses. For the most part, I don't read paper books anymore because of this. I do like Parts I & II thus far and will continue when the book comes out as an ereader.

feb 13, 2019, 12:02 pm

>48 Tess_W: Oh! I'm sorry to hear this but I completely understand.

feb 14, 2019, 10:02 am

>48 Tess_W: If you listen to audiobooks, Tess, it's available on Audible. I personally don't subscribe to Audible, but quite a few of my friends who don't read paper books anymore do. Just sayin'...

Redigeret: feb 14, 2019, 11:25 am

>49 Tanya-dogearedcopy: If you end up with one of the ebook copies from archive.com or manage to figure out a way to get the text scanned and copied as a pdf into your reader, we're always here! :-)

>50 karenmarie: Unfortunately, the offering on Audible is a 5.75 hour BBC audio drama of the book, not an unabridged reading.

Redigeret: feb 23, 2019, 2:39 pm

>51 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Oops. Looks like I didn't do enough homework on that one. Sorry.

Since starting this book I've been charmed by Seth's poetry - the poem at the beginning and the rhyming couplets for chapter descriptions in the table of contents.

On page 151 of my copy is a poem called a triolet, which I have never heard of before. It has a strict structure and rhyming scheme. Live and learn.
I'm haunted by a tender passion,
The ghost of which will never die.
The leaves of autumn have grown ashen:
I'm haunted by a tender passion.
And spring-time too, in its own fashion,
Burns me with love's sweet song --so I--
I'm haunted by a tender passion,
the ghost of which will never die.

edited to add: I've finished Part 3.

feb 24, 2019, 11:26 am

Like Karen, I have also finished Part 3. I continue to love Seth's writing style - so easy to take in!

feb 24, 2019, 3:41 pm

I have been compiling a list of all the books mentioned in A Suitable Boy as options for the "mentioned in another book" square for the BingoDOG. Thought I would share here, just in case anyone else is interested. Here is the list of books I found mentioned so far (to the end of Part 3):

- The Dead by James Joyce
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
- Dubliners by James Joyce
- Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann
- King Lear by William Shakespeare
- Bhagavad Gita
- Pigs Have Wings by P. G. Wodehouse
- Galahad at Blandings by P. G. Wodehouse

Redigeret: mar 17, 2019, 8:33 pm

______________________________Leather-bottle makers. (Presumably members of the ‘Chamaar’ caste).
______________________________Members of the Jatav social group were in the Chamaar caste


I've been thinking a bit about the caste system in India as the story has unfolded. We've seen it alluded to with the Partition, with the shoe-makers/sellers, and now with the relationship between Lata and Kabir. I got a little understanding of the the impact it had on the Partition when I watched Viceroy's House a couple of weeks ago: In the Hindu caste system, Muslims were near the bottom of the hierarchy, in the Untouchables range (either in it or barely above it. Untouchables did the filthiest of work in the communities) and were treated with extreme prejudice. In the Punjab region, the Muslims erupted in violence against their Indian neighbors. The slaughter was what prompted Lord Mountbatten to agree to a separate state for the Muslims (Pakistan.) There was a mass migration of Hindus from the Pakisrtani region into India and Muslims into Pakistan. In 1.8, we get a glimpse of the what this "migration" was like:

At the word Pakistan, Veena's mother-in-law, withered old Mrs. Tandon, flinched. Three years ago, her whole family had to flee the blod and flames and unforgettable terror of Lahore. They had been wealthy, 'properties' people, but almost everything they had owned had been lost, and they had been ,ucky to escape with their lives. Her son, Kedernath, Veena's husband, still had scars on his hands form an attack by rioters on his refugee convoy. Several of their friends had been butchered."

But the separation of the Muslims and Hindus was not complete. In 2.9, we see basket-wallahs selling shoes:

These shoemakers, mainly members of the 'untouchable' jatav caste or a few lower-caste Muslims, a large number of whim had remained in Brahmpur after Partition, were gaunt and poorly clad, and many of them desperate."

With the idea that Muslims were relegated to the lowest rungs of society, I was surprised when Kabir mentioned that, "Unlike many Muslim families, I suppose we were sheltered during Partition-- and before." That statement gave me pause. How did the Durranis manage to shelter themselves during a time of such sectarian violence? I wonder if it will be revealed in the story (I do hope Kabir resurfaces.)

And now we come to the end of Part III: 3.19 opens with two paragraphs that elucidate Mrs. Rupa Mehra's prejudice clearly; and 3.20 ends with Kabir's and Lata's impotence in the face of Mrs. Rupa Mehra's forced separation. One one hand, I understand that a generation that has had to live through the horrors of the Partition would view the other side as "Other" (Reminds me of my father's hatred for the Japanese. He was a Filipino who watched the Imperial Army slaughter his family... Years later, when my sister wanted to pursue Japanese Studies at the collegiate level, he wouldn't even talk to her.) On the other hand, the romantic in me, who had hopes for the bookstore boy from the start, feels more than a little bit heartbroken. There's a part of me that wonders if they had met in the twenty-first century, if it would have been easier for them. But then I saw this, this morning:




>54 lkernagh: I do not know if this would count, but in 3.13, Kabir and Lata have a conversation referring to "six impossible things before breakfast," which is a line from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass :-)

Redigeret: mar 17, 2019, 8:34 pm

______________________________Nepalese Caste System


In this section we dive a little deeper into the Hindu caste system as Kendernath takes his guest, Hareesh, on a tour though the jatav sections of town. What was of interest to me were the somewhat arbitrary distinctions made between what constituted an Untouchable: While working directly with animal skins and flesh were clearly in the realm of occupations within the Dalit class, those who commissioned and brokered the shoes (Hareesh and Kendernath respectively) were above the Dalit.

And yet, at the very beginning of 5.1 (Yes, I'm ahead a touch,) we see an instance where an "employer the trader did not like to touch shoes because he felt they would pollute him."

There are literally tens of thousands of gradations within the lowest caste and a blurred or moving moving line between the Dalit and the Vaisha.

Going back to 3.19 which opens with Mrs. Rupa Meehras prejudices, I'm struck by what seems to be a more overt statement of relativity:

"Mrs. Rupa Mehra was not more prejudiced against Muslims than most upper-caste Hindu women of her age and background."

The divisions between the castes aren't always clear-cut and I'm beginning to wonder how much of the Other" (someone in a lower caste) is truly offensive versus how offended the person making the judgement call is.


For a quick take on the Hindu caste system: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35650616

mar 17, 2019, 10:51 pm

I have finished part IV.

It's extremely convenient to be reading 2 feet away from my computer because a brief mention of dancing of a "few clumpish steps of quasi-kathak" had me spending another 20 minutes learning of the 8 major forms of Indian classical dance and then seeing several youtube examples.

But before that, at the end of part 4.2, was this poignant description of how Partition affected Kedarnath:
He thought of his own sudden fall from wealth in Lahore to the virtual destitution of 1947; the hard-won security he had obtained for Veena and Bhaskar over the last few years; the problems of the present strike and the dangers it would mean for them. That there was some special spark of genius in his son he believed with uttr conviction. He dreamed of sending him to a school like Doon, and perhaps later even to Oxford or Cambridge. But times were hard, and whether Bhaskar would obtain the special education he deserved, whether Veena could keep up with the music she craved, whether they could even continue to afford their modest rent, were questions that troubled and aged him.

But these are the hostages of love, he said to himself, and it is meaningless to ask myself whether I would exchange a head of unworried hair for my wife and child.
Heady stuff.

Redigeret: mar 20, 2019, 11:56 am

______________________________Holi, (Image Steve Gerner; Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0))

Happy Holi!

From WikiPedia:

Holi ( /ˈhoʊliː/; Sanskrit: होली Holī) is a Hindu spring festival, originating from the Indian subcontinent, celebrated predominantly in India and Nepal, but has also spread to other areas of Asia and parts of the Western world through the diaspora from the Indian subcontinent, also known as the "festival of colours" or the "festival of love". The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships It is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest. It lasts for a night and a day, starting on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Vikram Samvat Hindu Calendar month of Phalgun, which falls somewhere between the end of February and the middle of March in the Gregorian calendar. The first evening is known as Holika Dahan (burning of demon holika) or Chhoti Holi and the following day as Holi, Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi, or Phagwah.

Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia. In addition to India and Nepal, the festival is celebrated by Indian subcontinent diaspora in countries such as Jamaica, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Mauritius, and Fiji. In recent years the festival has spread to parts of Europe and North America as a spring celebration of love, frolic, and colours.

Holi celebrations start on the night before Holi with a Holika Dahan where people gather, perform religious rituals in front of the bonfire, and pray that their internal evil be destroyed the way Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu, was killed in the fire. The next morning is celebrated as Rangwali Holi – a free-for-all festival of colours, where people smear each other with colours and drench each other. Water guns and water-filled balloons are also used to play and colour each other. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colours occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and other musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance. People visit family, friends and foes to throw coloured powders on each other, laugh and gossip, then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks. Some customary drinks include bhang (made from cannabis), which is intoxicating. In the evening, after sobering up, people dress up and visit friends and family.

mar 20, 2019, 5:58 pm

Happy Holi!

Redigeret: apr 7, 2019, 1:23 am

_______________ The First Independent Cabinet of India: Dr. Rajendra Prasad, President of India, seen with the Members of the Union Cabinet at Government House, New Delhi, on 31 January 1950, before the President drove in State to the Indian Parliament to deliver his first address.

(L to R sitting) Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Sardar Baldev Singh, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Patel, Dr. John Mathai, Shri Jagjivan Ram, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Dr. S.P. Mukerjee.
(L to R standing) Khurshed Lal, R.R. Diwakar, Mohanlal Saxena, Gopalaswami Ayyangar, N.V. Gadgil, K.C. Neogi, Jairamdas Daulatram, K. Santhanam, Satya Narayan Sinha and Dr. B. V. Keskar.


This part starts with a riot breaking out in the shoe district. Tensions run high, people are hurt and killed before finally being disbursed. Then things get political: Blame games, petty paybacks, pragmatism and fury before a controversial bill is passed into law. I guess the saying, 'The more things change, the more they stay the same" (Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr) is true. The maneuverings of the newly independent Indian state feel learned from the British Colonial period; and do not feel out-of-place when applied to any twenty-first century government. One particular passage in 5.8 struck me as being close to a universal truth (Italics mine):

"'You are a case in point that a good man will not make a good politician. Just think-- if you had to do a number of outrageous things, would you want the public to forget them or remember them?'

Clearly the answer was intended to be 'Forget them,' and this was the MLA's response.

'As quickly as possible?' asked L.N. Agarwal.

'As quickly as possible, Minister Sahib.'

'Then the answer,' said L.N. Agarwal, 'if you have a number of outrageous things to do is to do them simultaneously. People will scatter their complaints, not concentrate them. When the dust settles, at least two or three out of the five battles will be yours.And the public has a short memory.As for the firing in Chowk, and those dead rioters, it will all be stale news in a week.'

The MLA looked doubtful, but nodded in agreement.

'A lesson here and there,' went on L.N. Agarwal, 'never did anyone any harm. Either you rule, or you don't. The British knew that they had to make an example sometimes-- that's why they blew the mutineers from cannons in 1857. Anyway, people are always dying-- and I would prefer death by a bullet than by starvation.'"

There is just so much to unpack in this section-- about (nascent) democracy and nationalism, the caste system and class warfare, capitalism and socialism, but to go on would seem a bit ridiculous as I don't think reading 15 sections in a lit-fic saga (no matter how deftly rendered) qualifies me to render an expert opinion and; I think it would seem somewhat disingenuous to not make direct comparison to certain current politicians. To be honest, even though Part V struck a nerve, I just don't want to go there and stir up trouble here.

apr 16, 2019, 12:57 am

I've just joined - got through parts 1-4 today. My copy is from the library and has already been renewed twice so considering that I'm no good at all putting off reading, unlike everything else, I expect to continue as quickly as I can manage.

It's quite a trip and I've never encountered a more masterful job of laying out a group of characters and their relationships so quickly.

apr 16, 2019, 11:36 pm

>55 Tanya-dogearedcopy: The Muslims were not part of the caste structure and were, before and during British occupation, rulers of vast territories and lands. Many considered all Hindus social inferiors. It is more accurate to consider Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, as various oils and waters that only mixed with objections on all sides, and each with their own social levels. The vast economic variations we are seeing within a set of in-laws is shown to be a result of sections of the family loosing almost everything to partition.

Redigeret: apr 18, 2019, 8:54 am

>61 quondame: Welcome to our corner of LT! We're all just pottering along with A Suitable Boy at our own pace. Whenever you feel like chiming in, please do! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, where ever you are in the book :-)

Redigeret: apr 20, 2019, 3:34 pm

>63 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I'm doing about 200-250 pgs a day. I worked with a number of Indians back in the 90s, mostly from Southern India, Hindus and Christians, and a few I knew less well from the north and north-west. The involvement of family in individual life is so much different than anything I've encountered among even my husband's large extended clan here in the US.

apr 20, 2019, 3:35 pm

I finished it. It is certainly worth the effort. It is fun to do Jane Austen comparisons, but they are so nicely scrambled.

Redigeret: apr 26, 2019, 12:54 am

>65 quondame: Wow! Congratulations! :-)

apr 25, 2019, 8:59 pm

>60 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I struggled a bit with Section 5 for many of the same reasons. I did find Section 6 much more enjoyable.

What do you think the secret is with the Nawab Sahib of Baitar and Saeeda Bai or Tasneen? Do you think Tasneen is his daughter or niece?

I've started Section 7 and back to Lata. I did go eat pani puri with my friend Lata and Doreen. So yum and we had some sweets.

Redigeret: apr 27, 2019, 1:52 am

______________________________Woman with a saraswati veena, Tanjore Painting, Crafts Museum, New Delhi, India
______________________________© Yann Forget / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0.


Music! I became rather curious as to all the instruments mentioned in this section and found some great videos demonstrating how the harmonium, tabla, and sitar look and are played:

The harmonium: https://youtu.be/2MojAo65MiA
The tabla: https://youtu.be/r31oe7Sm0vI
The sitar: https://youtu.be/72MCEY57_Q4

The sitar player is actually playing a raag, which is a sort of improvised composition with a melodic framework.

I'm not familiar enough with Indian music to speak of it with any authority or to break any of it down (still not clear how an alaap functions within a raag, or even able to discern it within any of the raags I've been listening to)-- but I do find the music mesmerizing. Growing up in a Western culture, it sounds exotic and beautiful but my ears are not trained to discern the nuances. Perhaps it's enough that I just listen?


>57 karenmarie: I haven't gotten as far as the eight different kinds of dance though, now that you've mentioned it, I have it in my list of lookups for later :-)

>65 quondame: Congratulations for finishing in record time! Being to read 200-250 pages a day and whipping through this book in a few days is an enviable luxury! I might have been able to do that last year, but my working schedule right now is insane (I work for a start up company,) so it probably will take me all year to read this!

>67 luvamystery65: I was thinking that Nawab Sahib was the father and, now that we've seen how old Saeeda Bai is, perhaps they are not really sisters but mother and daughter?

I'm starting Section VII and noticing that it has more sections that other parts that we've read so far, but it still looks manageable :-)

apr 28, 2019, 1:39 pm

>68 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Of course!!!

Section VII is longer than the previous ones, but so far I find it interesting.

apr 29, 2019, 2:37 am

Denne bruger er blevet fjernet som værende spam.

Redigeret: maj 17, 2019, 2:28 pm

______________________________Styles of Saris; Watercolor Illustrations of different styles of Sari & clothing worn by women in South Asia.; 1928


One thing I have noticed on the fly, is the descriptions of clothing: At Savita's wedding in Book I and at the parties in this section, there are vibrant and glittering fabrics and swirls of color. But there is also attention paid to the fraying hem of a kurta, or a missing button... I laughed out loud when Mrs. Mehra was scandalized by Meenakshi's choli but also sympathized with everyone's disappointment in Varun's dissolute manner made manifest in his shabby clothing. What I found interesting was Hortense Cox's appearances on the three occasions in this section: At Arun and Meenakshi's house, she's make an impression of being a drab, mousey woman who buys her clothes "off the hook." Later at one of the parties, she is resplendent in green silk and; still later, at the race track, she's in tasteful Summer whites. One gets the impression that she's something of a sartorial chameleon!

Anyway, I was rather curious about all the different types of clothing mentioned:

______________________________Two men wearing dhoti. Delhi, India.; Photography by the NGO medapt; 2007

____________________________________________________ India, kurta (top), pajama (pants), Rakesh Sharma from Pexels

______________________________Woman wearing yellow choli top dancing; Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh from Pexels

Almost six years ago, one of my friends married his love in a Hindu ceremony. We were given the option to rent Indian clothing for the festivities but I have to admit, I felt like I was renting a costume and ending up going in more traditional Western clothing. Perhaps, if I had taken the time to really look into it, I would have been more comfortable and confident in making an appropriate selection-- Though I'm pretty sure I would not have borrowed a choli regardless! :-D

jun 2, 2019, 7:25 pm

Section 7

I too loved all the clothing descriptions and was intrigued at what a chameleon Mrs. Cox is. I knew what a choli was, but I had never thought about a backless choli. I did Google and wowza it is quite daring!

I think what intrigued me most was the juxtaposition of the all the parties and the social events with the spiritual and financial discussions interspersed throughout. Also, the real concern with the older generation that their children were not married yet.

It was all around a interesting section. Now I await your next post!

Redigeret: jun 3, 2019, 6:09 pm

______________________________Somewhere in Bihar 06 threshing
______________________________Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Ah! Poor Maan! Exiled to the countryside to prevent further scandal to the family!

One thing that has unnerved me about Indian culture has been the intense familial scrutiny of their relative's lives, especially the control that the parents exert over their children, even when the children are adults. The disjunct between the long-standing tradition of arranged marriages and the 21st-Century Western way of doing things is obvious-- but more surprising to me is the constant checking-up on each other. In a small town or village it is inevitable, but in the larger town of Brahmpur, it's just as intense! Even though this is a cultural norm in India, you can still sense the friction. Even as Maan chafes under the watchful eyes of his parents, he is careful to keep his tone respectful, knowing that any show of resentment or seeming defiance will avail him nothing. We see it again with Maan's tutor as Rasheed tempers his "socialist" responses to his father's scheming.

Anyway, back to Maan in the countryside. One can't help but wonder of his relationship with Saeeda Bai wouldn't have fizzled out on its own accord . She clearly likes Maan, but remains pragmatic about her livelihood. "Mothers know best" seems to be the prevailing axiom but by removing Maan from Saeeda Bai (and Lata from Kabir) are the maataon (माताओं, "mothers") creating a situation in which "absence makes the heart grow fonder" or, one in which "out of sight, out of mind?" The romantic in me loves to see young love prevail but I'm not naive enough to think that young love isn't also very fragile.


And on a completely different note, I was curious about what rural village in the 21st century might look like and found this video: https://youtu.be/EPVPqcYLVqk

Women still wear saris and the field hands wear some sort of wrap but the men and boys are all in Western clothes!

jun 3, 2019, 6:32 pm

I looked up how to wear a dhoti, which turned out to be a more formal way of tying on a rectangle to form medieval braies. Then, on eBay, there were a few of the old fashioned 3.8-4.5meter dhoti's but most of them looked to be pre-arranged onto a waistband for men to simple pull on. I haven't seen any pull on saris though....

Redigeret: jun 3, 2019, 11:13 pm

There's definitely some fashion sexism going on here!

In this video, Ranveer Singh is wearing some decidedly non-traditional clothing while everyone else is in saris and, even a few deities (the guys in blue body paint!)

Yes, I know it's a music video, but I find it interesting that in the the video footage of life in rural India, there is only one woman not in a sari...

Enjoy ;-)


jun 3, 2019, 11:36 pm

>75 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I've seen that video about 3 (not all today!) times now with out catching the woman who is not wearing a sari.

jun 4, 2019, 2:00 am

The woman not wearing the sari is in the rural village video (not the music video): https://youtu.be/EPVPqcYLVqk?t=119
Though, looking more closely, it appears to a be a type of kurta over pyjama pants? STill, a fair cry from the saris the other woman in either video are wearing!

jun 20, 2019, 1:32 pm

I'm a bit behind as my Nursing Nutrition class has taken up my reading time. I should be caught up by the time we get to section 10. I can't believe we are halfway through. I'm loving this book and I'm glad we are taking our time reading it. I don't think I would have been able to keep up if we had gone any faster.

Redigeret: jun 22, 2019, 10:42 pm

______________________________Ruins of British Residency in Lucknow
______________________________By Vyom.Y - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51941081


The sun may never set on the British Empire, but there are places where it doesn't shine so bright! For nearly 200 hundred years, the British rule over India left its indelible imprint on the land, people and, culture. Even in the leaving, India had to deal with the aftermath of the Mountbatten plan as well as trying to re-establish the Indian identity. I think up until this chapter, I was thinking of India as a bicultural country-- One in which English Classics, education, and language still held sway alongside Indian culture but I was slapped into an another point of view in 9.6 (page 606) when Lata is reading Emma (by Jane Austen and the passages are cut with scenes from the India countryside:

"Lata looked down at her book.

'My poor dear Isabella,' said he, fondly taking her hand, and interrupting, for a few moments, her busy labours for some one of her five children-- 'How long it is, how terribly long since you were here! And how tired you must be after your journey! You must go to bed early, my dear-- and I recommend a little gruel to you before you go. -- You and I have a nice basin of gruel together. My dear Emma, suppose we all have a little gruel.'

An egret flew over a field towards a ditch.

A sickly smell of molasses rose form a sugar-cane factory.
The train stopped for an hour at a tiny station for no particular reason.
Beggars begged at the barred windows of the compartment.
When the train crossed the Ganga at Banaras, she threw a two-anna coin for luck outside the barred window. It hit a girder, then spun downward into the river.
At Allahabad the train crossed over to the right bank again, and Lata threw another coin out."

And then, in 9.15 (page 635-6) when Lata and her cousin are at the British Residency-cum-Museum in Lucknow, Lata comes across Tennysons's poem which smacks her as "...hardly possible... to be more racially smug than this:

Handful of men as we were, we were English in heart and in limb,
Strong with the strength of the race to command, to obey, to endure....
Now let it speak, and you fire, and the dark prisoner is no more....
Blessing the wholesome white faces of Havelock's good fusiliers..."

All this while, we've seen the tension between Hindus and the Muslims, capitalists versus socialists and communists, and pre- and post-Partition styles of governance, but this is the first time I felt the bald resentment of British colonialism.

The contrast between the adoption of English culture and the resentment and struggle for true Indian Indian independence seems to have it allegories in this chapter. I find it interesting that we are often lead to compare 19th-century British culture in the form of Janeite literature (which uses the marriage market as its premise) with mid-century Indian culture and its arranged marriages.

jun 24, 2019, 1:53 am

>78 luvamystery65: I really envy quondame on being able to read this in a week but like you, my time has been consumed with work-- so anything less than the full year wasn't going to work. I like being able to poke through the text and look up stuff when I can and; being able to catch up quickly if I'm a couple of days behind! :-)

jul 11, 2019, 9:57 pm

Hi, everyone!

The discussion post is going to go up late, probably sometime Saturday. I've read the chapters, but I haven't had time to collect the images and links I want for the post yet!
(Stupid work and Real Life!) Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten!

Redigeret: jul 13, 2019, 10:15 pm

______________________________"Wake, Little Brother! I bring news." -The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling


A wolf hunt! I have to admit that when the hunt was on, I was like, "Are there wolves in India?" And then my DH chimed in, "Mowgli was raised by wolves!" Then we argued because I was sure Mowgli was raised by a bear , and then I got "Bear Necessities" stuck in my head --All to no avail because he was right! :-D

Anyway, back to the wolf hunt: I was very conflicted about the hunt overall. I am not one who relishes hunts and faced with species extinctions and its ecological impact, I'm even less enamored of the romance of the hunt. And yet, people are being killed. I just wish there was a better way. I read a Vanity Fair article about a recent tiger hunt which highlights the conflict: https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2019/04/indias-hunt-for-a-man-eating-tiger

India is set to surpass China as the most populous country on earth, which I would think means pushing into more territory and threatening habitats. And since Man has the greater technology, the tiger/wolf/whatever is going to lose... An eventually we will all lose... And it's all very upsetting :-/

Enough of my own angst! Why is the hunt in the story? There has to be reason, not just to add a little bit of color to the narrative. At first I that it might be an obvious allegory to the hunt for love-- Not only the obvious matchmaking in the main story with Lata and, with Maan's affair, but with the more general elusiveness of love as confided to Maan. There seems to be a wistfulness to the "what ifs" as expressed by the villagers when speaking of arranged marriages.

But now I'm not so sure. I can't remember which villager it was, be he wanted to speak to Maan about Maan's non-violence stance (as a Hindu ?) and the hunt. At one point, we see Maan's temper flare--so now I wonder if the hunt is a sort of trigger or turning point if not in Maan, in our perception of him as well. What is our lovelorn Maan truly capable of?

And now, because I can't resist: https://youtu.be/08NlhjpVFsU

You're Welcome!:-D

Redigeret: jul 31, 2019, 9:11 pm

______________________________Worship of a sacred tree during Paush Purnima, Kumbh Mela 2013, Allahabad (India)


Whoa. I have to admit that I'm not sure what to say here. Book XI started out so slow, boring in its way if you're not into legal mechanics but then the Pul Mela Stampede of 1954, Bhaskar and ironically, when the book ended back in court and the "verdict" regarding the Zamindari Abolition and Land Reform act was passed, I was devastated by that too!

As I was reading along, I was highlighting lines about the challenges to faith that were being manifested in the text: e.g. Mrs. Kapoor's acceptance of the Ganges having been poured forth from a god's ear but non-acceptance of a bridge made from pipal leaves (because it's not based on sacred writing); The Professor's challenge to "Madam" about oxidation vs meditation and; Dipanker's own shock over the stampede vs the Rama's seeming indifference (bordering on flippancy!) But this seems like such a tiny piece of the mosaic that is this chapter.

I feel like this is the apex of the novel, the point where all other paths have led up to and from which we will see the consequences play out, serving as the backdrop for Lata's story. I do find it interesting that she and her mother were not actually here!Hmm, and neither was Maan...

Oh! and did you catch that reaction as Nawab Sahib was told that his son, Firoz was hanging out with Saeeda Bai? This further feeds my suspicion that Nawab Sahib is, in fact Saeeda Bai's father.

Redigeret: dec 27, 2019, 9:59 pm

______________________________Toni Morrison lecture at West Point Military Academy in March, 2013.


The first book on my daughter's Summer Reading list this year was Song of Solomon' (by Toni Morrison.) Alicia (my daughter) had to write an essay about literary devices and to help her, I showed her video interviews with Ms Morrison and, played a few clips from the audiobook (which the author narrated.) Then we moved on to other books on the list.

Last week, I was driving Alicia out somewhere and she was like, "Oh! Toni Morrison Died! ... She really had me pay attention to Author's Intent." I was a little bemused as to what my daughter meant-- so she explained, "Every word, every phrase is there for a reason. I look at everything I read and every movie I watch differently now...."

I've been thinking about this and, damn. Now I want to go back and re-read every book I've ever read, re-watch every movie I've ever seen, attend another performance of every play. Given the impossibility of this, I'm just going to have to be more selective on my re-reads and re-watches and, I'm trying to be more "conscious" going forward.

With that in mind, I've been paying particular attention to Part XII. Relative to events in the last couple of parts (e.g. a tiger hunt, Maan's temper, the stampede at Pul Mela stampede...) this part seems kinda boring but I have to trust that brakes to the action have been put on for a reason; that these scenes of daily life and provincial machinations set the stage for larger things to follow. The easiest set-up to spot is Mahesh Kapoor's decision to leave the Congress Party, reflective of India's internal, political shifts as the default, hardliner party (as epitomized by L.N. Agarwal) comes into conflict with the Socialist movements (Rasheed and the students.) I expect to see the political philosophy of India played out through these avatars. Another set-up that becomes clear is Mrs. Rupa Mehra discovering that Kabir is in the play along with Lata. I have no doubt that this will preclude some draconian measures on Mr's Mehra's part that will drive the narrative of finding a suitable boy for Lata into sharper focus. But Maan's return to Brahmpur and his reception by Saeeda Bai and his family respectively? Pran's asthma attack? The author's intent regarding these events is less clear to me.

And also, what is the deal with Saeeda Bai's bird?

sep 30, 2019, 12:34 pm

Argh! I am two sections behind in posting! I will use October to catch up, I promise!

This is all related to my current work schedule and I apologize!

sep 30, 2019, 5:16 pm

>85 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I'm super behind as well. I may not catch up until November, but I will see this through the end. It's a great book, but I have so much going on.

okt 28, 2019, 2:55 pm

I'm almost done with my last paper of the term and then I'm going to hit this book hard! I wish it had been available on audio. I would have definitely been able to keep up.

nov 9, 2019, 8:35 pm

I've been reading along this year-- just started section XI and decided to see if I was the only one who thought it started SLOW. I miss Maan and Lata in the midst of these legal proceedings. I'm hoping to pop back here between now and the end of the year as some motivation to finish this book!

>82 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I was also puzzled by the wolf hunt. I do think it's some sort of a turning point-- the first time Mann has had a purpose in life.

dec 25, 2019, 8:56 pm

I finished! Anyone else? I'd love to chat about the end.

dec 26, 2019, 12:33 am

>89 donan: I did, but it was a while back. I felt the end was pretty in line with what was going on.

dec 26, 2019, 10:08 am

I didn't read the book this year, but I still remember the ending from when I read it several years ago - mainly because I was a little disappointed with Lata's eventual choice (don't worry, no spoilers here!). But I suspect that says more about me than the book, which I thought was utterly wonderful throughout.

Redigeret: jan 14, 2020, 11:42 pm

______________________________Betel nuts from India.


It's no secret that I favor Kabir! He cuts quite the romantic figure: Meet-cute in the bookstore, a date on the lake to the Taj-Mahal-like edifice, the dashing figure he cuts in his cricket whites... Also, I'm quite the sucker for the Romeo and Juliet type of romance so I've been #TeamKabir despite the increasing lack of ink spilled about him since Section IX. It's breaking my heart that Lata's mother seems to be getting her way. By removing Lata from Brahmpur, Kabir is receding in importance as surely as the miles of track the train is covering. Lata goes from the infatuation that physical immediacy engenders, to thinking of him fondly on the train:

Lata thought of Kabir, and she felt both miserable and -- in a curious way that she could not understand -- happy. She loved him still -- it was pointless to pretend otherwise.

I'm thinking, yes! Absence makes the heart grow fonder! But there is a strange sense of foreboding when she is half dozing on the train and Kabir slips in and out of her dreams and conscious awareness. There's nothing dark about the scene, but the fact the Kabir is becoming less real sends up a red flag when I read the passage.

All the letters, the introductions to prospective suitors, Kabir rescuing the little boy...now we've come around to 13.22 and the strained quality of their interactions (even though they are now in close proximation during the play rehearsals) is killing me:

'Will you always love me? Because I know I will--'
'Oh, please stop, Kabir, I can't take this--' she cried. What she might just as well as said was that shew was trying to convince herself as much as him that their feelings were nothing but futile.

The despondency of their conversation (through to the end of 13.22) puts me in a foul mood as I realize that the author is pivoting away from Kabir to Haresh. And what do I have against Haresh? Principally, pettily, it's the fact that he chews betal nuts. That red juice staining his teeth, the ugly chewing and spitting...To me, it represents his crudeness and provincialism despite his education and ambitions.


Yes, I know I'm way behind and I'm sure many of you have already finished!
I'm going to try and get the book finished over the holidays and post as I go along; but please don't hesitate to discuss the ending or whatever else occurs to you!

Redigeret: jan 1, 2020, 4:45 am

______________________________A reception was held by Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the then Minister for Health in the Government of India, at Government House, New Delhi on September 27, 1949 in honour of the delegates to the South East Asian Regional Conference of the WHO. Here, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India is seen chatting with Madame Aung San.


I find the sections about politics the most challenging, basically because I don't really understand the structure and nature of coalitions in functioning government (It's the same when I read about UK parliaments!) So, I glean what I can from the book and from a little extra reading on the side of articles or Wikipedia entries, trying to get a clearer picture. I will never be an expert on Indian politics but what I've gathered so far is that after Independence from British Colonial Rule, Ghandi has hoped for One India and, was rather crushed in spirit when the Mountbatten Plan partitioned off Pakistan. It seems that Nehru too wishes for a more integrated India but is thwarted by Congress Party members, some of whom were once his allies. The anti-Communist sentiment seems to be the thread that binds them, but thread being what it is, snaps easily when it comes down to Constitutional ideals informing the nation versus ethic identity-based nationalism. And that's about as far as my brain cells have been able to take me!

Even though Nehru is a historical figure that would be easy to google, I've decided not to "spoil" the narrative in the book by doing so. I honestly don't know what his legacy (beyond a jacket style!) is, and at the end of the chapter can't decide if :

A) He just deployed a brilliant political maneuver;
B) Painted himself into a corner;
C) Both!


And just to reiterate what I said in my last post, please feel free to discuss the ending if you would like!
You can use the spoiler Html or not... I figure anyone who comes here and has made it this far down the page will have a general sense of whether or not they want to read the End Comments or not!

I'm going to continue to post sectional comments over the next few days, probably extending beyond 2019 a little bit :-)

Redigeret: jan 18, 2020, 1:29 pm

______________________________Tazia, Jaipur, Ghat area


In 15.8 , Maan says to his nephew, Bhaskar as an explanation for missing part of the Rama festivities, that:

‘I don’t believe in weapons and shooting and hunting and violence...’

So very clearly a patent lie, one told to appease a precocious child; but also very clearly a portent of things to come! While Maan is referring to the battle scenes of the pageant (which are firecracker-and-tinsel versions of heroes and, where Sita is played by a 12-yo boy!) Vikram Seth gives us a bit of foreshadowing:

• The clash of the processions between the Muslims and the Hindi which ostensibly is about the sorrowful tenor of one group offending the joyous festivities of the other (but is really about deep-seated religious resentments);

• Maan’s confrontation with the Hindi mob in which he attempts to deceive and cajole the mob before his temper flares and he gets physical with the lathi-wielding celebrant;

• The fact that the celebratory procession so quickly turns into a murderous crowd;

• The cricket match in which everything seems elegant if a bit soporific, but turns into an upset and, Kabir makes a sore loser remark and;

• The Congress Party’s selections which are rigged on an anti-Nehru bias all the while claiming that, “that it had sought the seceders’ opinions earnestly and in a spirit of reconciliation. The board had ‘given them every opportunity for co-operation and advice.’”

Basically, the veneer of lies that we tell ourselves, what separates “what should be” and “what is,” is very thin! It’s small things and big things, calculated and spontaneous things, but it’s sad that there’s ugliness underneath as opposed to an exposition of “white lies” that that might delight or surprise us.


I’m currently on a ranch in Northern California with no internet! Being off the grid is good if a bit tedious when you’re trying to put together a post just using your iPhone7 😜

Obviously, I didn’t finish A Suitable Boy on time/by the end of the year, but I will doggedly continue until the end and keep posting.


jan 1, 2020, 8:40 am

Thank you for all the wonderful colourful pictures you've posted throughout the year on this thread, I have really enjoyed seeing them! Happy new year to you too!

Redigeret: jan 1, 2020, 2:11 pm

______________________________ India’s first Test victory: Madras, 1951-52: Polly Umrigar set up India's first Test victory with an exquisite 130 not out.


Ooh, not gonna lie: I find cricket more baffling than Indian politics! The sections about the game go completely over my head and I’m sure I’m missing a lot of really great analogies, metaphors and, clever jokes!

What I do find interesting though is that Vikram Seth not only brings all three of Lara’s suitors into one scene, but each comes back into the narrative with much stronger feelings for Lata:

Amit comes out of his writerly dream state and believes himself to be in love with Lata. I haven’t considered him a real contender at all so far, something of a romantic red herring if you will— And I can’t say I take him seriously now. That kiss certainly comes out of left field! The lack of chemistry in that moment seems to confirm that he’s really not in the running.

I have to admit that I’m rather surprised to see Kabir return to the story with such emotional force. I really wasn’t feeling his presence during the play, since then and until now— so his professed symptoms of love and the meet-up with Malati seem to be another “left field play!” (And who is the other girl he is seen with?! Classic Misunderstanding, I’m sure!) I’m not happy that Seth chooses to morph Kabir into Mr. Saghal in Lata’s dream, especially when it was Amit who is responsible for the unsolicited kiss!

The weight of the romantic arc still seems to be with Haresh. He has put away the photo of Simran and returned her letters. Fully committed to pursuing Lata, the story seems to ride on his efforts to ingratiate himself and, Lata’s internal conflicts about Haresh. There are more sub-sections about Haresh than the other two suitors combined!

By positing objections to Haresh in Arun, the snobby and intractable brother, Seth make our/my objections to Haresh appear equally petty, further clearing the way forward for a more rational appreciation of Haresh. OK, so be it: I agree with Arun! Deep down, I’m a shallow person! :-D


It’s New Year’s Day both now and in 1952 in the story!

“All the past grew veiled by the first of January, and all the future glistened ahead of Pran, emerging mysteriously from its grubby chrysalis.”

jan 2, 2020, 7:13 pm

skipping over your posts until I catch up!

Redigeret: jan 14, 2020, 12:06 pm

______________________________ Twelfth Night (Folger Library Edition, Updated 2019)


Oh, wow! I would like to say that I saw this coming, but I so did not! I'm talking about What Maan Did. Looking back, yes, I could see all the instances of foreshadowing, including the situation between Saeedi Bai, Tasneem and Firoz and, the increasingly violence of Maan's temperament. But to be honest, I was clearly lying to myself. My first impression of Maan was that of a mischievous, but at heart, good boy. I noted but did not take onto consideration what the hunt, the fury at the foreman, and his flashes of anger portended. And again, when he was campaigning for his father, I was so proud of him! I thought, "Here! Here is what Maan can do! Maybe one day, he will become a politician for the people!" So, yes, my heart is breaking a little bit. Even now, I'm hoping things turn out better for him than a prison term. Maybe this will sober him up, once and for all?

I had the opportunity to read Twelfth Night (by William Shakespeare) last week. Since it was the play that Vikram Seth chose to put in the novel, I was wondering if there was foreshadowing here too. After all, Olivia has three suitors (Orsinio, Sir Aguecheek and, Malvolio) just has Lata has three suitors (Haresh, Kabir and, Amit.) The relationship between Olivia and Malvolio comes undone through the agency of a letter just as Kabir's letter to Lata seems to be a turning point for Lata. But character-wise, I'm not feeling the correlation between the two works, though I do feel that Kabir is out of contention now. We're closing in on the end of the novel, and there just isn't enough through-line story-wise as far as he is concerned. Coming back to the use of Twelfth Night though, I'm not sure why Seth chose this play for his story, but I guess it is telling that he didn't choose Romeo and Juliet!


This is for luvamystery65 when she's ready and for anyone else who has already finished:

We had whole Saeedi Bai, Tasneem, Firoz relationship figured out way back in April! :-)

jan 14, 2020, 11:50 am

>98 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Oh I agree, my heart broke for Maan as well!

jan 15, 2020, 3:43 am

Denne bruger er blevet fjernet som værende spam.

jan 18, 2020, 2:17 pm



I finished this section a few days ago but I still can't find the the words.

One-thousand, four-hundred and fifteen pages in, Lata makes a decision and I'm nearly inchoate with rage and disappointment.

So, yeah, I guess you could say that I'm not taking this well.

jan 18, 2020, 2:40 pm

>101 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Haha - I remember being so disappointed too! But it didn't stop the book overall being an outstanding read for me, and I'm excited for A Suitable Girl which is allegedly on the way.

Redigeret: jan 19, 2020, 1:06 pm

I had planned to read A Suitable Boy last year, and starred this thread. I did read a lot of other books in 2019 ;-)
Going to try again in 2020, I'll be back to look at this thread when I actually have started to read.

Redigeret: jan 19, 2020, 3:59 pm

>103 FAMeulstee: YAY! I'm hoping this thread will be a nice touchstone to have around for others who will read A Suitable Boy :-)

Redigeret: jan 25, 2020, 7:47 pm



Ah, so here we are! I have to be honest, after all we've been through-- a year of thwarted passions, flashes of violence, political machinations and, Lata's decision, this felt a bit anti-climactic. Everything seemed a little sadder or quieter, especially in contrast to the way the novel opened at Prem Nevas. But I'm not sure it couldn't have ended any other way and; for many the tantalizing aspect of "a suitable girl" has many excited for the sequel--- though I see that it will be a "jump sequel" set in the present day, not picking up where this book left off! It will be interesting to see how Lata has and Haresh have faired over the decades, and if any Western mores enter into the picture... We'll shall see!


I hope everyone enjoyed the novel and was able come away with a little something extra for having visited this thread!
Thank you for participating, whether it was reading along, dipping in and out or, bookmarking this thread for future reference!

__________________________________________________ समाप्त __________________________________________________

jan 25, 2020, 7:53 pm


I came across this article, which with it's follow up (both links below), paint a very romantic and tragic portrait of India that started during the British Colonial Rule of India, with triggering events during the Partition and, extending all the way to the twenty-first century. The photographs really add to the melancholy.

Royal Family of Oudh:
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/22/world/asia/the-jungle-prince-of-delhi.html
UPDATE: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/world/asia/jungle-prince-of-delhi.html

dec 12, 2020, 7:49 pm

We wrapped A Suitable Boy in January, but I saw this the other day:

Seems a shame: There was an opportunity to be great, but it was not taken 😔

From the pictures alone, it seems “off” (e.g. Lata appears very light-skinned) but if anyone actually watches this I would love to know what you think!