“This is a story intimately and compassionately told against the sensuous background of everyday life in Bombay.”—Washington Post Book World
“Bracingly honest.”—New York Times Book Review
The author of Bombay Time, If Today Be Sweet, and The Weight of Heaven, Thrity Umrigar is as adept and compelling in The Space Between Us—vividly capturing the social struggles of modern India in a luminous, addictively readable novel of honor, tradition, class, gender, and family. A portrayal of two women discovering an emotional rapport as they struggle against the confines of a rigid caste system, Umrigar’s captivating second novel echoes the timeless intensity of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible—a quintessential triumph of modern literary fiction.
Umrigar's schematic novel (after Bombay Time) illustrates the intimacy, and the irreconcilable class divide, between two women in contemporary Bombay. Bhima, a 65-year-old slum dweller, has worked for Sera Dubash, a younger upper-middle-class Parsi woman, for years: cooking, cleaning and tending Sera after the beatings she endures from her abusive husband, Feroz. Sera, in turn, nurses Bhima back to health from typhoid fever and sends her granddaughter Maya to college. Sera recognizes their affinity: "They were alike in many ways, Bhima and she. Despite the different trajectories of their lives circumstances... dictated by the accidents of their births they had both known the pain of watching the bloom fade from their marriages." But Sera's affection for her servant wars with ingrained prejudice against lower castes. The younger generation Maya; Sera's daughter, Dinaz, and son-in-law, Viraf are also caged by the same strictures despite efforts to throw them off. In a final plot twist, class allegiance combined with gender inequality challenges personal connection, and Bhima may pay a bitter price for her loyalty to her employers. At times, Umrigar's writing achieves clarity, but a narrative that unfolds in retrospect saps the book's momentum.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I liked this book; I read on this particular subject matter, so it was really interesting. I enjoyed the story and the writing, and would recommend it to others.
Beautifully written and powerful
This is one of my favorite books. It's incredibly written and keeps you hooked throughout the story.
Such a haunting story of love,betrayal,innocence. Beautiful sums it up