A Fine Balance is my favourite book and so you’d have thought I’d have gone out and read all of Mistry’s books straight away. The reality is that I was too scared to read them – I knew my expectations were far too high and didn’t want to be disappointed. I eventually built up the courage to try Family Matters and although it isn’t in the same league as A Fine Balance, I wasn’t disappointed.
Family Matters has a much narrower scope than A Fine Balance. It follows a single family as they struggle to look after their father, Nariman; an old man who suffers from Parkinson’s and then becomes immobile after a fall. Trapped in his bed Nariman feels the terrific burden he has placed on his family. They struggle to afford his medicines and find it physically draining to care for him.
The characters come alive on the very first page and I felt immense sympathy for everyone involved – the relationship between Nariman and his grandson was especially touching. There were times when I longed for the plot to move beyond the family, but the fact that I was happy observing such mundane scenes for the majority of the book shows Mistry’s talent as a writer.
The sights and sounds of India were vividly described and Mistry has an amazing ability draw attention to the little things and give them a whole new depth.
I strongly recommend that you read A Fine Balance, but once you’ve read that I think you’ll appreciate this subtler insight into the problems faced by one Indian family.