10 hours ago
Sunday, 15 June 2008
You have to make space for this book, it took the best part of a year for me to read. I read on Amazon it is the longest written in English language, well, my edition has 1474 pages. Part of the problem, of course, is that I couldn't take this book on the train communte with me, so it stayed on my bedsite table and I only ever read it before going to bed.
The story is set in India, shortly after gaining Independance from British rule. It is, at this core, a love story. There are so many characters, it is hard to keep track, and the family trees of the 4 main families at the beginning of the book proved very handy. The main character, if there is one, is Lata, a young girl living with her widowed mother, and her mother's quest to get her married. And, of course, Lata seems to fall for the most unsuitalbe of all, a Muslim boy. But there are other candidates... well, I had my favourite and was a bit disappointed with her choice at the end, and I really had to be strong this time - not peeking at the last pages ;-)) .
But the story is by no means only about Lata and her family. There are 3 other main families, and all are somehow one way or another interlinked, either by marriage, politics, friendship etc. My favorite character was Maan, who was so desparately in love with Saeeda Bai, the courtesane, and this love should prove to be all consuming and fateful for him. All the characters are beautifully crafted, even minor one's which we meet only on a few pages. I got a bit bored in the middle when there was a long section on politics, India holding an election. And apart from the fact that I was disappointed with Lata's choice, I also missed a 'proper' ending on some of the other characters, such as Maan. But I suppose that's were our imagination can come in.