Book Reviews / Food for Thought

Book Review: The Space Between Us

Once thing I’ve learned about India through my literary endeavors is the vast disparity between the lower and middle classes.  In Thrity Umrigar’s novel, these two groups are placed in direct contrast, as seen through the eyes of two women.

Bhima lives in a Bombay slum.  She is illiterate and missing two teeth.  She cares for her orphaned granddaughter, working tirelessly as a housekeeper to put her through college so she may one day have a better life.  Sera, her employer, has all the benefits of the middle class.  She comes from an educated family, has a large home, and is cared for by her lovely daughter and son-in-law.

Though the women could not be more separate in terms of lifestyle and opportunity, they have been living side by side for so long that they have a certain pull on each other.  Both women have endured the unjust aspects of their culture as they are both are subject to the circumstances constructed by their respective husbands.  As women, they are bound; as people, they are classes apart.  In modern Bombay their bond of gender is tested against the distinction of their social status.

4 out of 5 stars.

space between us

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