BBC One and Lookout Point are reteaming with award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies on the adaptation of Vikram Seth’s bestselling novel A Suitable Boy. Published in 1993, the period coming-of-age story begins in 1951 and is set in India. The eight-part series will be shot on location in India and feature the BBC’s first entirely non-white cast.

A Suitable Boy follows a young woman’s search for love and identity in a newly independent, post-Partition India. Lata is growing up in northern India in 1951. Her mother is determined to find her a husband, but after her sister’s arranged marriage, Lata is not convinced she wants the same path. Torn between duty to her family and the excitement of romance, Lata embarks on an epic journey of love, desire and heartache as three very different suitors vie for her hand. Her choice will play out against the tumultuous political backdrop of India at a crossroads, looking towards its first independent general election and carving out its own destiny.

At 1,349 pages, A Suitable Boy is one of the longest single tomes in the English language. It’s billed as a modern classic and has been compared to Tolstoy’s War And Peace, as well as George Eliot’s Middlemarch and Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Davies adapted last year’s War And Peace for the BBC, Lookout Point and The Weinstein Co; did a 2005 BBC adaptation of Bleak House, and was previously attached to a Middlemarch feature version.

He says, “Lata’s trials of the heart speak as loudly to me now as when I first read Vikram’s epic novel two decades ago. She is a great literary heroine in the tradition of Jane Austen and George Eliot. But behind her stands a massive supporting cast of striking, funny, irrepressible characters and a vision of India in the 1950s that no reader can ever forget. It will make a wonderful series and I can’t wait to bring the magic of the book to life on screen.”

Charlotte Moore and Piers Wenger commissioned A Suitable Boy for the BBC. It’s a Lookout Point production for BBC One. Exec Producers are Davies and Seth; Faith Penhale and Laura Lankester for Lookout Point; and Lucy Richer for the BBC.