Sunday, September 8
Book Review: A Fine Balance
Author: Rohinton Minstry
Pages: EBook 574
Summary: With a compassionate realism and narrative sweep that recall the work of Charles Dickens, this magnificent novel captures all the cruelty and corruption, dignity and heroism, of India. The time is 1975. The place is an unnamed city by the sea. The government has just declared a State of Emergency, in whose upheavals four strangers--a spirited widow, a young student uprooted from his idyllic hill station, and two tailors who have fled the caste violence of their native village--will be thrust together, forced to share one cramped apartment and an uncertain future.
As the characters move from distrust to friendship and from friendship to love, A Fine Balance creates an enduring panorama of the human spirit in an inhuman state.
My Rating: 9/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: I started off with this book slightly apprehensive the first book I read by the author didn't work out for me, and parts of the book were graphic and disturbing. There were also some bits, in this book that were in the previous book that I disliked, so it took a while to warm up to it. While it started off slightly slow, soon the book became next to impossible to put down and in the end it became a wonderful book, well worth reading.
I wouldn't say I loved or really liked the characters, but they were memorable and I did want to know how their story would end. The characters were all well rounded, broken and deeply flawed - sometimes I found them to be a bit irritating, like Om. He was a character, who although had an atrocious past, was one I often wanted to smack upside the head. But, for his age and events in his past, the author did a great job with him. Many of his actions and attitude may have bothered me, but for who he was and his past versus his present, he was a well created character. All of the characters were written like this, the author did a wonderful job at fledging out all of his characters. They may not be ones you will love, but they do stick with you long after you've finished the book.
How the characters all came together was also a highlight of the book. It may have been a little convenient at times, on just how certain things worked out and when they did, but I think the family the four main characters built and how it came that way was written fairly naturally. It also complimented the happenings and turmoil in the rest of the book, along with the minor characters nicely. Everything connected together fairly well, I was very surprised how the author executed this it and how well it worked out for him.
The ending was fantastic. The one part I was starting to guess at, yet it still shocked me when it happened. It's a bit bittersweet, maybe more bitter, but I liked it a lot. It fit the book perfectly, but it wasn't overly depressing either. It's hard to describe my feelings for the ending, without spoiling the book, but the author did a good job with it. I don't think I'd have it any other way.
Would I recommend it to read: I would. This book exceed expectations especially compared to the first book I read by the author, which nearly turned me off reading other books by him. The book is dark, very dark and disturbing. It can also be very graphic, so while I do recommend it, I know it isn't for everyone because of some of the content, it was disturbing at times.
What to read next: This won the Giller prize, so I'd say fellow Giller winners.
Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 2013 Category Challenge, 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge, 777 Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge