Bhima, the unforgettable main character of Thrity Umrigar’s beloved national bestseller The Space Between Us, returns in this triumphant sequel—a poignant and compelling novel in which the former servant struggles against the circumstances of class and misfortune to forge a new path for herself and her granddaughter in modern India.
"It isn’t the words we speak that make us who we are. Or even the deeds we do. It is the secrets buried in our hearts."
Poor and illiterate, Bhima had faithfully worked for the Dubash family, an upper-middle-class Parsi household, for more than twenty years. Yet after courageously speaking the truth about a heinous crime perpetrated against her own family, the devoted servant was cruelly fired. The sting of that dismissal was made more painful coming from Sera Dubash, the temperamental employer who had long been Bhima’s only confidante. A woman who has endured despair and loss with stoicism, Bhima must now find some other way to support herself and her granddaughter, Maya.
Bhima’s fortunes take an unexpected turn when her path intersects with Parvati, a bitter, taciturn older woman. The two acquaintances soon form a tentative business partnership, selling fruits and vegetables at the local market. As they work together, these two women seemingly bound by fate grow closer, each confessing the truth about their lives and the wounds that haunt them. Discovering her first true friend, Bhima pieces together a new life, and together, the two women learn to stand on their own.
A dazzling story of gender, strength, friendship, and second chances, The Secrets Between Us is a powerful and perceptive novel that brilliantly evokes the complexities of life in modern India and the harsh realities faced by women born without privilege as they struggle to survive.
Umrigar's luminous sequel to The Space Between Us continues the story of Bhima, now bereft of her position as servant in the present-day Mumbai household of Serabai Dubash and desperate to find some way to support herself and her granddaughter, Maya. Dinaz, Serabai's daughter, arrives and presents Bhima with a check for the decades of savings that have been in Serabai's keeping; Bhima immediately decides to use the funds to pay for Maya's college. While Bhima and Maya live in a hovel in Mumbai's slum, Parvati, the novel's other main character, sleeps in a doorway, scraping by on the small amounts of food she receives as charity. Chance circumstances bring the two women together to form a business partnership and they, Maya, and Bhima's new employers, Sunitabai and Chitra, become like family to one another. The leads have suffered immensely in life for them, "everything is an ambush" and yet neither surrenders. Umrigar writes her characters so that, rather than being pitiable, they have an admirable strength. Her amazing cast is coupled with shining prose and a plot that consistently startles and gratifies. This splendid tale should appeal to all readers with open hearts, regardless of their familiarity with the previous work or the culture of Mumbai.
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The Secrets Between Us
I very much enjoyed this book and it’s predecessor The Space Between Us. Wonderful exploration of relationships between casts, families, generations, marriages and morality.