12 reviews

The Space Between Us
by Thrity Umrigar

Published: 2009-10-13
Kindle Edition : 0 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 11 of 12 members
“This is a story intimately and compassionately toldagainst 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 ...
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“This is a story intimately and compassionately toldagainst 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 at adept andcompelling in The Space Between Us—vividlycapturing the social struggles of modern India in a luminous, addictivelyreadable novel of honor, tradition, class, gender, and family. A portrayal oftwo woman discovering an emotional rapport as they struggle against theconfines of a rigid caste system, Umrigar’scaptivating second novel echoes the timeless intensity of ZoraNeale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were WatchingGod, Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows inBrooklyn, and Barbara Kingsolver’s ThePoisonwood Bible—a quintessential triumph of modern literary fiction.

Editorial Review

The Space Between Us, Thrity Umrigar's poignant novel about a wealthy woman and her downtrodden servant, offers a revealing look at class and gender roles in modern day Bombay. Alternatively told through the eyes of Sera, a Parsi widow whose pregnant daughter and son-in-law share her elegant home, and Bhima, the elderly housekeeper who must support her orphaned granddaughter, Umrigar does an admirable job of creating two sympathetic characters whose bond goes far deeper than that of employer and employee.

When we first meet Bhima, she is sharing a thin mattress with Maya, the granddaughter upon whom high hopes and dreams were placed, only to be shattered by an unexpected pregnancy and its disastrous consequences. As time goes on, we learn that Sera and her family have used their power and money time and time again to influence the lives of Bhima and Maya, from caring for Bhima's estranged husband after a workplace accident, to providing the funds for Maya's college education. We also learn that Sera's seemingly privileged life is not as it appears; after enduring years of cruelty under her mother-in-law's roof, she faced physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband, pain that only Bhima could see and alleviate. Yet through the triumphs and tragedies, Sera and Bhima always shared a bond that transcended class and race; a bond shared by two women whose fate always seemed to rest in the hands of others, just outside their control.

Told in a series of flashbacks and present day encounters, The Space Between Us gains strength from both plot and prose. A beautiful tale of tragedy and hope, Umrigar's second novel is sure to linger in readers' minds. --Gisele Toueg


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by Karoly D. (see profile) 03/09/21

by amy b. (see profile) 09/05/19

by Lynda W. (see profile) 03/13/19

This is such a beautifully written book. It centers around the life of Bhima, an old grandmother of low class in India. The story provides much insight into the lives of women in India and how class differences... (read more)

by shannon b. (see profile) 09/20/18

by Ann-Marie B. (see profile) 09/20/18

  "The Space Between Us"by Merle H. (see profile) 09/18/18

"Blood is thicker than water"
In spite of Sera's helping Bhima all through, when ti came to a point when she had to choose between believing Bhima or her s-in-law, she chose family. And was
... (read more)

  "space between us"by Carolyn R. (see profile) 07/10/16

Set in contemporary Bombay, Umrigar's second novel (Bombay Time, 2001) is an affecting portrait of a woman and her maid, whose lives, despite class disparity, are equally heartbreaking. Thou... (read more)

by Rebecca C. (see profile) 07/01/16

by Georgette A. (see profile) 02/18/16

  "The Space Between Us"by Clare T. (see profile) 02/17/16

Beautifully written. Thought provoking because it describes a life, a culture and moral values in India that are very different to our way of life and thinking yet at the same time eerily similar

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