I read this book because a friend of mine raved about it. I have to say that it took me a while to warm up to it. First of all it's quite a depressing story. It starts with giving the detailed backgrounds of each characters past. In each and every one there is a bright hope that things will turn out well which is always snatched away from them. You find your own hopes rising that everything will turn out okay only to have it snatched away from you. And this was even with my friends warning.
I actually don't mind that though. Even a depressing book can be a good book. What bothered me was the amount of detail the author went into. A lot of it just didn't seem relevant to the story. I found myself constantly feeling impatient with it. I wanted to shout "just get on with it". The characters are also a little hard to take. Sometimes it's difficult to find anything likeable about them. It isn't until they begin to find their own balance with each other that they mellow a little and you can see their good points.
Around 400 pages in the book became unputdownable. A bit of a long wait to get to the point but I felt by then it was worth it. It was around then I became emotionally attached to the characters.
Don't be put off by my account of the book. I still gave it four stars despite all my criticisms. I think part of the problem is that I am reading Shantaram at the same time for a readalong. I should maybe have left off A Fine Balance until I finished that. They are both set in the same city five years apart and both are over descriptive. Shantaram does it right though and from page one I was fascinated. I couldn't help but make comparisons and I probably wasn't fair to Mistry's book at times. I still enjoyed it in the end but I will say that if you are looking for a feel good story then this isn't for you.