Sunday, December 05, 2010

Family Matters, by Rohinton Mistry

Family Matters, by Rohinton Mistry, is a book that seems to move along at a slow pace, despite the fact that there is so much going on. Professor Nariman Vakeel, the elderly patriarch who has had so much sadness in his life, is now left alone with his haunting memories as he succumbs to Parkinson's Disease. His stepson Jal and stepdaughter Coomy live and care for him in the palatial flat where they have lived since Nariman married their mother, Yasmin. Unfortunately, there is some deep resentment and bad blood, especially in Coomy's heart, for she blames Nariman for her mother's unhappiness. She also feels some jealousy toward her younger sister Roxanna, suspecting that Nariman has treated his only natural child more favorably.


So, Coomy finds a very deceitful way to foist the care of her elderly father onto Roxanna, her husband Yezad, and her two young sons, Murad and Jehangir. Since they live in a tiny flat, this is a great hardship for them, and money is tight. In the process of dealing with this predicament, Roxanna and her family become closer and learn from each other in ways that forever change them.

Meanwhile, Yezad is facing other challenges at work, and his actions affect others' lives in unforeseen ways. Also, Coomy's efforts to keep up a lie also have drastic and sad consequences. There's a lot of deceit going on, and it becomes a fascinating, tangled web.

The magic of this novel by Rohinton Mistry is that the characters are so multilayered. No one is all good or all bad. The sad ironies in life simply are, and I felt something for all the characters. Along the way, I cried at some places, and in the end, I felt real frustration and concern.

This story takes place in 1990s Bombay, with its religious bigotry and the corrupt government that effect everyone's lives.

Family Matters would be a great book to discuss in a group, actually. I highly recommend it for being thought-provoking and real.

4 comments:

Doug said...

It sounds good. Thanks for posting these reviews.

tsduff said...

I should pay more attention to your reviews... and then actually take it one step further and read the material! I'm a lost soul most of these days of reading!

actonbell said...

Thanks for visiting, Doug:)

Happy reading, Terry. There's sooo much out there!

TLP said...

Very well-written review!