The Space Between Us Paperback – Jul 18 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
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. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Sera Dubash is an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife in modern-day Bombay. Bhima is her domestic servant. Though they inhabit dramatically different worlds, the two women have much in common. Both married men they alternately love and loathe: Sera's moody husband frequently beats her, and Bhima's betrothed falls into an alcohol-drenched depression after losing his job. Sera's civil treatment of her servant--she overlooks Bhima's frequent tardiness and treats her like an equal--dismays her neighbors and friends. She also offers to fund the college education of Bhima's granddaughter, Maya, whom Bhima adopted when the girl's mother died of AIDS. The bond between the two women deepens when Sera (whose own daughter is happily wed and expecting her first child) arranges an abortion for unmarried Maya. Veteran journalist and Case Western Reserve professor Umrigar (Bombay Time, 2001) renders a collection of compelling and complex characters, from kind, conflicted Sera to fiercely devoted Bhima (the latter is based on the novelist's own childhood housekeeper). Sadness suffuses this eloquent tale, whose heart-stopping plot twists reveal the ferocity of fate. As Bhima sits at her dying daughter's side, a fellow hospital visitor speaks the simple, brutal truth: "Here, we have all hit the jackpot for grief." Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Bhima is a 65-year-old widow raising her nineteen year old grand-daughter Maya. Living in a hut in the slums where filth and hunger are a daily occurence, Bhima's dream is to create a better life for Maya.
Bhima has cooked, cleaned and cared for the Dubash family for many years. Sera Dubash, the lady of the house, is an upper-class Parsi woman who is now widowed. Sera endured years of physical abuse from her husband Feroz while trying to shelter and protect her only child, Dinaz, from witnessing the cruel behaviour of her father.
Sera and Bhima form an intimate bond and an understanding despite their extreme difference in social class after Sera nurse's Bhima back to health from a bout with typhoid fever. Bhima repays Sera through her continued loyalty and Sera in turn, pays for Bhima's grand-daughter Maya, to attend college.
Sera's only child Dinaz and her husband Viraf move home with Sera so she won't be alone. Sera spends much of her time doting on Dinaz who is pregnant with her first child and talking with Bhima while she cleans.
Maya becomes pregnant by a man she refuses to name, crushing Bhima's hope of a better life for her. Bhima's immense disappointment and anger toward Maya causes her to physically lash out at Maya. With no money or education in such matters, Bhima turns to her friend Sera who arranges and pays for an abortion which deepens the intimacy and bond these two older women share.Read more ›
If you enjoy reading world fiction, especially from India, this book will both intrigue and captivate you. Thrity Umrigar is a gifted storyteller
Most recent customer reviews
With the shrinking world we live in today I very much enjoy reading stories that tell you about other countries culture. This book deals with two cultures and two women . Read morePublished 5 months ago by Linda Baker