Saturday, January 24, 2009

14 - The Space Between Us; Thrity Umrigar

The Space Between Us: A Novel (P.S.)is an intimate portrait of a distant yet familiar world. Set in modern-day Bombay, India, it is the story of two women. Sera Dubash, an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife whose opulent surroundings hide the shame and disappointment of her abusive marriage, and Bhima, a stoic illiterate hardened by a life of despair and loss, who has worked in the Dubash household for more than twenty years. A home where she has separate dishes and utensils; a place where she eats on the floor alone.

Despite the weight of the themes: race, class, gender, sexuality and culture, the parallels of Bhima and Sera's life are subtly dealt with. Bhima is the center of the story, and it is through her eyes we see what it is like to be poor woman in Bombay: the sights and smells of the slum where she lives with her granddaughter, the thin mattress where she sleeps on the dirt floor can be visualized.

There is much much more that Bhima must endure throughout this novel, that will remain unsaid. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone who wants to read it. I will just say that The Space Between Us: A Novel (P.S.) is powerful, the writing is beautiful, and in the end I did feel somewhat hopeful for Bhima. I look forward to reading more by this "new to me" author.


from the book.....

The thin women in the green sari stood on the slippery rock and gazed at the dark water around her. The warm wind loosened strands of her scanty hair. Other than the crabs, she was all alone. She looked to the sky again, searching for an answer. But the only thing she could hear was the habitual beating of her own dutiful heart.

RATING - 4.5/5 - COMPLETED - 1/22/09
WHERE FROM: My stacks

4 comments:

  1. I loved this book when I read it. Everything you said about it being powerful and the writing beautiful is so true! It was such a sad book, and yet, as you mentioned, there was a bit of hope at the end.

    I've had a chance to read one other book by Thrity Umrigar so far, Bombay Time, and I enjoyed that one, although not quite as much. I have another of her books in my TBR collection to try.

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  2. This sounds like an amazing novel. Great review!

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  3. I read this one in June of 2006 and listed it as one of my favorite books of that year. Not because I enjoyed it, but because it was so moving, such a personal look at a culture. I intended to read some of her other books, but have never gotten around to it.

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  4. I got this one from PBS a while ago and was so excited to read it, but for some reason still haven't pulled it out. Your review makes me want to go find it though.

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