A Fine Balance Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Fine Balance

A boy grows up in the northern mountains of India, well cared for. Events cause him to be sent to the city to become schooled.
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At the same time, 2 men from a rural, caste-structured area, are terrorized by the owner/bosses of the farm. Treatment of the people in the lower caste is appalling and fully described. The 2 men leave for the city to find a wife for the younger one.
In the city, a woman has left her husband and doesn't want her father to find out so she starts a tailoring business in her apartment, which is against the rules but allows her independence. The boy is related to her and goes to stay with her because the school is terrible to live in. She meets the 2 farm men on the street and hires them to sew for her. She tries to keep it purely business natured but becomes personally involved as their plights become more and more life threatening.
The social struggle occurring at the same time in India plays an important role.
The review of this Book prepared by gnash

Dina Dalal, now 42, was widowed very early in her marriage. She has been making do in the big city with financial support from her haughty successful businessman brother Nusswan. Now she hopes to make ends meet by having tailors make clothing to order for foreign sale by following patterns furnished by an acquaintance who runs Au Revoir Exports. Two tailors from the sticks, Ishvar Darji and his proud nephew Omprakash, hire on with Dina and work in her apartment (illegally) during the day.

Dina also raises money by boarding the son of a friend, Maneck, who is from the mountain country up north and attending school in the city. Part of the story concerns the uneasy relations between these four people, from different castes and with differing religious perspectives and aspirations, and the background stories of their past lives and families. India's history, from independence from the British Raj in 1947 to Indira Gandhi's crushing repression with the so-called national Emergency in 1975, places a quiet but ongoing backdrop to these stories. Mistry's rich, complex, and beautiful 1996 novel is like a Dickens book set in India, about the humor and degradation in the life of the poor.
The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

Dina is a widow in her 30s, living alone in a large city in India and in economic straits. She hires Ishvar and Om, two tailors, to start a garment manufacturing business in her flat and she takes in a student boarder, Maneck. They come to feel like a family there when circumstances throw them all together after Ishvar and Om are kicked out of their slum. Ishvar takes Om back to their village to find a wife. Maneck takes a trip to visit his parents. They promise to return.

The review of this Book prepared by Coletta Ollerer

We meet the main character, Dina Dalal, when she is a child living a middle class existence with her brother and their parents in the City by the Sea in India, when her doctor father, volunteering for a hazardous job, falls sick and dies. Dina is forces to leave school at age fourteen, denied a university education that would have been her right, and aa an adult, is harassed by her older brother to marry rich but unappealing suitors.
    When Dina hires two tailors from a remote village to secure her business, Mistry introduces us to the hazardous lives of the poor in India during Indira Ghandi's terms as President in the 1970's.
The review of this Book prepared by Betty-Jeanne Korson

Chapter Analysis of A Fine Balance

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1960's-1970's Ethnic/Regional/Religion    -   Indian from India Ethnic/regional/gender life    -   Yes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   small businessman Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   Indian Indian


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   7 () Asia/Pacific    -   Yes Asian country:    -   India City?    -   Yes City:    -   dirty, grimy (like New York)    -   dangerous    -   rude people Small town?    -   Yes Misc setting    -   moving train

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   descript of kissing    -   actual description of hetero sex Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like A Fine Balance

Rohinton Mistry Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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