My fault entirely, I had no idea that this month's reading would extend to almost 200 pages... that's quite a lot, no wonder it seems to have taken me so long and it gives us vast amounts to talk about, so please consider this post by way of an introduction rather than an in-depth anything, far too much to mention so fire away in comments with whatever grabbed your attention.
I blame that pesky Goldfinch too, along with me relaxing utterly into the spirit of the midwinter festival. It has been nigh on impossible to settle into another book, even one which is starting to feel as familiar and comfortable as A Suitable Boy. Dragging myself away from Theo's life to catch up with Lata's has been a real effort, but now I'm there I'm fine. I realise too how far I have travelled in my midwinter armchair of late too, New York, Las Vegas and Amsterdam with Donna Tartt, to the Isle of Lewis three times with Peter May, and thence to St Kilda with writers various, plus several Lunnpoly tours with Penelope Fitzgerald. Hardly time to unpack the virtual bags before I must head to India and I definitely didn't feel ready for the trip. As we always used to say to children showing last minute reluctance about anything, 'It'll be alright when you get there,' and the minute I read of Lata seeing the letter I was back in the groove.
So good to be back in Lata's life, now in Calcutta, and I wonder just how many times her mother would shift her around the country if she could to avoid all these Unsuitable Boys.
But joy of joys...the crazy Chatterji family, and what a perfect name Vikram Seth has given them. Whatever it may mean in Indian terms it meant 'chattering' to me, I loved them and that has been a surprise. Meenakshi the Medal-Melter had not been a particularly endearing envoy to date, so what a treat it was to find this sense of kinship, comedy and banter around the Chatterji's dinner table, and for the long-suffering Lata to feel so happy and comfortable amongst them. Didn't you just love Mrs Rupa Meehra's sudden realisation that Amit was becoming another suitor and ...
'...the unsavoury vision of sacrificing another of her children on the altar of the Chatterjis...'
Interestingly, I started to wonder how Maan was faring with village life, which made me realise that I am now fully committed and part of this knowable community, and so as Part Eight dawned I was ready to go there and find out.
I wonder if you have been as surprised, maybe even as shocked as me about two plot moments...
Meenakshi's affair in Part Seven, and who can blame her...
...and the tyranny of Rasheed's father.
As I reached the end of Part Eight (last night!) I realised I was in page-turning mode again alright and truly can't wait to read on. Maybe I was expecting village life to be a sea of tranquillity and meditation, but far from it, much skull-duggery going on, and reading of Kachheru's abject slavery was heartbreaking. Rasheed's honourable decision will have repercussions but meanwhile I await Maan's transformation, surely it will happen??
And of course Mrs Rupa Mehra is now in Delhi looking for a Suitable Boy whilst she has left Lata behind in Calcutta...
It is only when I pause in my reading of A Suitable Boy, and I make myself do so every fifty pages or so, that I can somehow clearly visualise the broad cinematic sweep of the book, and this in complete contrast to the minutiae of daily life. It's quite an odd feeling...as if I have a helicopter view of the breadth of the canvas is the only way I can describe it, but it is to Vikram Seth's credit that this is happening unwittingly as I read, and something I am only aware of afterwards.
It's also bit like spinning fictional plates, so over to you to spin a few more in comments.
IN THE DIARY :: SATURDAY FEBRUARY 8th (NB date changed)
PARTS NINE & TEN (150 PAGES)