After a few months of wading, I have finally made it through A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. It was brilliant. I was completely daunted by it - being the longest novel written in English and all - but I now fully agree with The Times: "Make time for it. It will keep you company for the rest of your life."
The ending seemed to me to be really sudden, but I quite liked that. It didn't feel like this massive cast had been invented for my reading pleasure, but rather that they were real people and I had just dropped in to witness one particular period of their lives. Although many loose ends were tied up, not all of them were - the lives of the characters continued on past where I stopped reading. In a way this was frustrating, but if Vikram Seth had written it otherwise I think it would have ruined the magic.
One interesting coincidence is that Paul and I have just started to sponsor a child. We said we didn't mind where he or she came from and we were therefore allotted a lovely little girl in India. The charity we are with sent some information about the work they do in the country and it turns out that they started working there after meetings with (then) Prime Minister Pandit Nehru - who is a character in A Suitable Boy! It hadn't really occurred to me until then that at least the outline of the politics in the book must be true.
So nine out of ten for A Suitable Boy. Right, I'm off to read Carrie at last...