Thrity Umrigar has written a searingly honest novel about two women living in Bombay. Sera is wealthy, a Parsi who has lived a materially rich life, but suffered a violent marriage. Bhima, on the other hand, is poor and living in a slum with her granddaughter. The two women’s lives intersect because Bhima becomes Sera’s house servant.
The novel alternates between Sera’s and Bhima’s points of view – giving the reader insight into their personal histories which have made them who they are today. Although the two women have built a friendship with each other, filled with tenderness, they cannot escape the caste system into which they have been born.
Umrigar does an apt job of showing the gaping differences between the various castes in India. She writes with a sensitivity to women’s issues which I found touching. She weaves a story which is almost predictable based on the rigid adherence to culture which we see from all the characters. Despite its underlying sadness, the novel does leave the reader with a flush of hope at the end.