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The Space Between Us – Book Review

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.

Recommended.

11 Comments

  1. Anonymous Anonymous
    April 22, 2007    

    I read this book right before its release as a ARE and was quite impressed with the story. I had recently started reading books by Amulya Malladi, another Indian author, and wanted to read more fiction set in India or that got into the Indian cultures. I was quite taken by The Space Between Us and have since read another of Thirty Umrigar’s novels, which I also enjoyed.
    I enjoyed reading your review, Wendy.

  2. Anonymous Anonymous
    April 22, 2007    

    *nods* I found this to be an easy sort of read…I like Umrigar’s style and will read more of her books.

  3. Anonymous Anonymous
    April 25, 2007    

    Lovely review, Wendy. I hadn’t heard of Unrigar before. This book sounds like something I would enjoy.

  4. Anonymous Anonymous
    April 26, 2007    

    Sounds interesting – something to put on my amazon wishlist! I don’t really know much about the Indian caste system, so this might be an informative portrayal.

  5. Anonymous Anonymous
    April 27, 2007    

    This sounds like an intersting tale. I am going to add it to my TBP (to be purchased) list. Thank you for such a good review.

    Boltbabe

  6. Anonymous Anonymous
    April 28, 2007    

    Verbibore: I think you’d like it!
    Traveller: I believe Umrigar is pretty accurate in her portrayal of Indian Caste systems.
    Boltbabe: Hope you like it! Thanks for visiting!
    Wendy 🙂

  7. Anonymous Anonymous
    April 28, 2007    

    I just found your blog through Semicolon. I recently read my first Indian fiction book: The God of Small Things. Even though it was extremely painful (no good people at all…and very depressing, all about breaking the “love laws”) there was something about it that captured my imagination and has made me want to read more about India. I have already put this book on hold at the library! Thanks!

  8. Gayla Collins(weeklyreaders) Gayla Collins(weeklyreaders)
    October 10, 2008    

    Excellent review and makes me want to buy this book soon.

    Thanks, Wendy.

  9. October 11, 2008    

    Thanks, Gayla!

  10. Kathryn Kathryn
    October 11, 2008    

    I just finished reading this book and I agree with your review, with one minor point: Only the Hindu have caste systems (Umrigar explains this in an interview at the back of my book) so it is more about CLASS rather than caste.

    I am ready to read more by this author! This book captivated me!

  11. October 11, 2008    

    Kathryn, Thanks for that information! My book didn’t have anything from the author at the end (I wish it had!), so this is very good information to pass on to me 🙂 I think Umrigar just published a new book recently.

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