Did you think I had forgotten about Lata and her (rather her mother's!) search for a 'suitable boy'? I have been reading (slowly) and finished part eight last week. After a lengthy part seven the next section was a quick breath of fresh air. Well, mostly. With each chapter some new thread is picked up and moves the story along from a different vantage point. There is a large cast of characters really but it curiously does not feel that way. Or I just am used to the different families. I keep a copy of the family trees tucked into the book and add notes to it as I go (I might be lost if I ever lose it!).
Part seven was spent in the household of the Chatterjis (Lata's older brother Arun's wife's family), but Lata's mother went off to Delhi and the story pivoted back to Maan Kapoor. Maan is the younger brother of Pran who is married to Lata's sister Savita. (Yes, get all that--lots of family connections). Maan is kind of the dissolute younger brother. You may (or may not!) recall he got involved with a courtesan, so his family sent him off to cool things off.
Oh, the things you don't tell your parents! His family was not happy about the liaison not only because she is an older, 'experienced' woman but she is also Muslim. It all gets a little tricky when class and religious lines are crossed and keeping in mind this is newly Partitioned India! Saeeda Bai is actually a performer of Ghazals--she is a singer, who is not against getting a little extra on the side (attention, gifts, if you know what I mean). She, however, sings and writes in Urdu, and if Maan wants to communicate with her in an epistolary manner--send her love notes, read the poetry she sings, then Urdu must be learned. His trick is to go with his tutor to learn Urdu. All well and good though I don't think his family has made the connection that he wants to learn the language not simply for a little educational edification but to schmooze a little and win Saeeda's favor.
Now this all sounds like a little idyllic aside, doesn't it? But really the point is to show the differences between class and religion, city and country and then there is the bill going through parliament in the hope of getting rid of the zamindar class. Zamindars are the wealthy landowners, so Seth is throwing some politics in the mix in a nice juicy, dramatic manner.
I must say it is quite fun to watch all the intermingling of characters and love interests and affairs and drama. This is about Lata and her suitable boy but it is about so very much more. If you like long epic detailed historical reads, I bet you would enjoy this story as much as I am. Even though I am taking it all at a most leisurely pace--I think if I did not have so many other in progress books I could see myself losing myself for long hours in this story!
As for Lata. I have started a list of suitable matches, but I fear I might have missed one or two. I will have to tell you more about the men next time, but so far there is Amit Chatterji (the poet from the last section) and now Haresh Khanna who Mrs. Rupa Mehra, Lata's mother, just met (though . . . did they already meet earlier in the story--must look back). He works for a shoe company but would like to find better employment possibilities. Alas, Lata was just reflecting, as she sat on the train (her mother is having her rush to meet her as she wants to throw her in Haresh's path) that she is still in love with Kabir (our cricket player who has been off stage for far too long now) even though she is not feeling terribly optimistic about their chances.
So, I've just started getting into section nine (another short-ish section) and I think things will be getting back to Lata and her mother, and flipping ahead I see some new names and Haresh seems to be present, too . . .