A Fine Balance

It's because at over 600 pages Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance takes a bit of reading.

To be honest, it also took me a bit of time to get into, but – seeing as the friend who recommended it to me described it as one of her “all-time favourites” – I felt compelled to stick with it.

And I'm so glad I did because it is brilliant and I have now spent many hours immersed in the India of the 1970s – a very different (although still recognisable) country from the India of today.

The story centres around Mrs Dina Dalal, a widow who in her determination to remain financially independent and avoid a second marriage sets up a sort of sweatshop in her apartment.

She takes in a boarder and two Hindu tailors to sew dresses for an export company - relationships that, as the four become dependant on each other financially, develop into a kind of friendship across lines of caste and religion.

As they share their home, meals and stories, a fascinating tale emerges involving a wide cast of incidental, but very memorable, characters.

India was definitely the country I enjoyed visiting most when I worked at adidas Asia. Although the poverty is overwhelming, so too is the country's beauty - and the Taj Mahal is without doubt the most incredible thing I've ever seen in my life.

A Fine Balance certainly conjures up some of the contradictions and charm of this fascinating and complex country.

It is incredibly sad and sometimes that makes it difficult to read, but the story is so beautifully told and the book so beautifully written you are very glad you did.