The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

The Space Between Us

Set in modern-day India, it is the story of two compelling and achingly real women: Sera Dubash, an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife whose opulent surroundings hide the shame and disappointment of her abusive marriage, and Bhima, a stoic illiterate hardened by a life of despair and loss, who has worked in the Dubash household for more than twenty years.

Details The Space Between Us

TitleThe Space Between Us
Release DateOct 13th, 2009
PublisherHarperCollins e-books
GenreFiction, Cultural, India, Historical, Historical Fiction, Book Club

Reviews The Space Between Us

  • Crumb
    This book ravaged my soul and kidnapped my heart. I don't believe I will ever be the same upon finishing this masterpiece of a novel. This book rocked me to my core; It changed every fiber of my being. The premise of this book is simple. However, what transpires over the course of this novel, is anything but. Morals are tested; lines in the sand are drawn. Now.. I need to talk about the writing, or, maybe artistry is a better word. I am definitel...
  • Colby
    My favorite quote from this book:"...How, despite our lifelong preoccupation with our bodies, we have never met face-to-face with our kidneys, how we wouldn't recognize our own liver in a row of livers, how we have never seen our own heart or brain. We know more about the depths of the ocean, are more acquainted with the far corners of outer space than with our own organs and muscles and bones. So perhaps there are no phantom pains after all; per...
  • Will Byrnes
    Bhimi is a servant in contemporary Bombay. She works for Sera Dubash. The class divide between them is vast. Yet there are similarities to their lives that bind them across these lines. Bhima is an old woman with calloused feet, mildewy armpits and an affection for chewing tobacco. She is raising her granddaughter, Maya, by herself, her daughter and son-in-law having died of AIDS, her husband having left with their son, Amrit, many years back. Ma...
  • Annet
    A book that makes a deep impression.... Sometimes I just had to stop reading. So much sadness and misery, there's only so much I can take.Poverty, illness, death, abuse, rape, abortion, disrespect, distinctions of class, condescension, it's all in this book. But it is also about a grandmother fighting to make a life for her granddaughter. And that's tough to say the least, living in the slums of Bombay and facing grim reality and poverty every da...
  • Carol
    What a fitting title for this book! The story is a shattering account of the soul crushing poverty of an Indian servant juxtaposed alongside her employer, an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife. Bhima lives in a slum; but for over 20 years she has worked in the household of Sera Dubash. Over time, their lives become enmeshed in an unlikely friendship in spite of the ritualized “space” that can never be bridged…class divisions that that holds...
  • Angela M
    This is a beautifully written story telling the side by side yet intertwined stories of two women from different classes in Bombay , India . It's sad , really heartbreaking at times as we come to know the stories of Sera , a wealthy woman, and her loyal servant , Bhimi , whose life in the slums is a stark contrast .In spite of the class difference and the deeply rooted societal space between them , these women are bonded somehow as they share the...
  • Agnes
    Meh. This is the kind of novel I used to like - exploring gender and class issues in a foreign setting - but I found it unsatisfying. The author describes the crushing powerlessness of illiteracy and poverty well, but the rest of the book I found overly dramatic. *SPOILER ALERT* The one redeeming feature of the book to me was the fact that the two women characters in the book whose lives are profiled, do NOT find a way to bridge the class gap bet...
  • Debbie
    I could not put this book down from the moment I began to read. The characters are beautifully drawn out, and the writing superb. It's one of those books where the story just stays with you. Life in Bombay with it's sharp lines between poverty and wealth. The significance of the educated over the uneducated. The trials and hardships of women dominated by men. The main character of this book has been a servant to a higher class and well educated f...
  • DeB MaRtEnS
    Nearly ten years have passed since this The Space Between Us was first published and it continues to be printed and carried on library shelves. With nearly 30,000 reviews on Goodreads, my contribution will be a tiny drop in an ocean of years of thoughts, but as the novel is actively in current circulation I'm happy to add a few "bon mots" to the pile. The caste system in modern India continues to be represented significantly in literature, as the...
  • Lee
    This is a gorgeous story about friendship, family relationships and the artificial barriers created between the classes in India. From the first page, I was sucked into the life of Bhima, a hardworking servant to an upper middle class, Parsi housewife named Sera. Bombay is powerfully present as the book opens with Bhima awakening to the sounds and smells of the slum around her. I felt I was right inside her head and eavesdropping on the constantl...
  • Elyse Walters
    I read this when the book first came out. There are other more recent reviews...(wonderful reviews written on this site)The story takes place in Bombay (before the name change, Mumbai) --during a time when I visited myself. 'Contemporary' -present day India (when it this was written).Two women: one upper class. The other a servant. One of the things that this book brought up for me --is the reminder that no matter how different two people might b...
  • Glenn
    In Thrity Umrigar's transportive novel, we come to know Bombay, as well as its residents, in its ugliness, its evocative beauty, and its uniqueness; and find how rare and difficult it is for people to transverse different parts of it, geographically and culturally.Throughout The Space Between Us, there are details presumably unfamiliar to the reader not conversant with the colloquial language of Bombay; the rhyming, the slang; yet, it hardly matt...
  • Tea Jovanović
    I've read this novel as uncorrected proof, i.e. before publishing... and liked it... but the agency representing the rights for Serbia always asks too much money and that's the reason why I didn't buy the rights... For the same reason many good books will never be published in Serbia... :(
  • Britany
    This story...Bombay, India-- Bhima is living in the slums, raising her granddaughter- seemingly all alone. You can tell by her actions, movements, and words that she's lived a difficult life- just how tough we learn throughout the book. Bhima works as a servant for Sera Dubash- a wealthy Indian woman, who also has lived a tough life bound with secret pain. Bhima & Sera come together to survive the abusive familial relationships in their respectiv...
  • Nerissa
    This is a well-written but not-so-subtle exploration of how class, gender power, and generational differences isolate the two female protagonists in India. Spoiler Alert:I would have given it more points, but I felt like the author trotted out every stereotypical horror that could befall her female characters. Spousal abuse? Check. Domineering Indian mother-in-law? Check. Wife getting AIDS because her husband brought it home from a prostitute? Ch...
  • Paul Lockman
    What a great way to start the new year with a 5 star read. The people and the streets of Mumbai come alive in this delightful and at times heartbreaking story. Thrity Umrigar emigrated to the USA from India at the age of 21 and her in depth experience of living in Mumbai is so evident in the beautiful and raw descriptions of life in this teeming city of 10+ million people.We follow the lives of poor, illiterate Bhima who lives in the slums of the...
  • Antoinette
    4.5 STARS.I'll be honest- I used to read every book that came out that took place in India. I found them so fascinating but ultimately very depressing. So I stopped reading them till this one- I picked this one up because of all the great reviews plus earlier this year I read "Everybody's Son" by this author and loved it.In this earlier book (pub 2005), we are in Bombay pre 1995 (became Mumbai in 1995). This book is about 2 women Sera and Bhima- ...
  • Connie
    The Space Between Us is a novel about the relationship between two Indian women, the upper-middle class Serabai, and her lower class servant, Bhima. The lives of these two likable women have parallel experiences that connect them, but there is always that "space between them" due to class differences. Poverty, education, family, and gender roles are also explored in the story. In India's patriarchal society men hold the power, and abuse of women ...
  • Suzanne
    The Space Between Us is set in Bombay, India. It is very far away. I am familiar with it only through literature and TV news snippets. Thrifty Umrigar, the author and a seasoned journalist, draws an exacting picture of the two Bombays that the middle class Sera, a Parsi and Bhima, a Hindu servant inhabit. The middle class family lives much like a middle class family in the U S. They have a car, a multi room apartment , a bathroom,a college educat...
  • Jo Anne B
    This was a well told story about the lives of two women from different classes in modern-day India. Bhima is a servant to the upper middle class Serabai. Even though they have vastly different economic incomes, both have had their share of unhappiness. This book is about their unhappiness and also about the injustice done unto the uneducated lower class by those above them. Despite being there to witness each other's pain and suffering, Bhima an...
  • Jeanette
    Enjoyed this book, and like everything by this author. But so far, this one is my favorite.There is a relationship of long service (and obligation too that is connected) between people of different classes here in this book. And that exists in other cultures, as well- besides Thrity's. Very similar, if not identical fusion of a mindset for "our" welfare. In this PC age, those multifaceted bonds are almost all completely lost. Either within indivi...
  • Mmars
    Why do all the books I read set in modern day India have to be both so incredibly sad and so incredibly well written? I guess that's not difficult to answer. The British influence on English education remains. Economic, education, and class/caste disparities perpetuate ---- as the title suggests and the story centers on, in "The Space Between Us."Two women, middle class and servant class by birth. Both riddled by marriage difficulties, though of ...
  • Pamela
    "Before, she had always imagined that evil played out on a large canvas - wars, concentration camps, gas chambers, the partitioning of nations. Now, she realized that evil had a domestic side, and its very banality protected it from exposure."Brutally and poignantly raw. The Space Between Us centers around some very hard hitting women's issues, controversial topics/themes, and caste systems within Indian/Parsi culture, Bombay, India."She is tired...
  • Missy J
    Captivating journey through Bombay's society!The Space Between Us is a very fitting title to the story of two women in Bombay - Sera, a Parsi from the upper-class and her domestic helper Bhima, who lives in the slum only 15 minutes away. Thrity Umrigar slowly reveals to us their lives. Both women have radically different lives, yet there are overarching themes that bring them together - their love for their children, their hopes for a better futu...
  • Zeek
    Visceral, frightening that this kind of world exists for women- still, and unbelievably sad, I had a hard time getting through this book- especially when I figured out a major plot twist early on. However sharply this novel focuses on the life of a poor woman in Bombay India, which it did well, it lacked a certain sense of hope that I need by the end of a tale to make me fall for a story.Sure Bhima, the main character, let go of her pain in the e...
  • Book Concierge
    In present-day Bombay, Bhima leaves her slum each day to work as a domestic in a wealthy widow’s home. She has faithfully served this woman, Sera Dubash, for decades and prides herself on caring for the family. Sera is an upper-middle-class Parsi, but her social status has not protected her from an abusive husband and mother-in-law. In Sera’s home Bhima has witnessed the intimate details of the family’s life, and cared for Sera’s injuries...
  • Sweetdhee
    hati-hati dengan lelaki yang penuh dengan pesona..#halahBhima, seorang pelayan yang mengabdi kepada keluarga Sera semenjak masih gadisMengalami pahitnya cinta yang hilang karena liciknya perlakuan terhadap kaum buruh yang dialami suaminyaHingga suaminya pergi bersama anak lelaki kebanggaannya entah kemanaAnak perempuannya meninggal bersama dengan menantunya karena AIDSYang tertinggal hanya cucu nya, MayaYang ia besarkan sepenuh hati dan tenagaAga...
  • Mary
    Or perhaps it is that time doesn’t heal all wounds at all, perhaps that is the biggest lie of them all, and instead what happens is that each wound penetrates the body deeper and deeper until one day you find that the sheer geography of your bones – the angle of your head, the jutting of your hips, the sharpness of your shoulders, as well as the luster of your eyes, the texture of your skin, the openness of your smile – has collapsed under ...
  • Brooke Waite
    A heartbreaking story of a mistress and servant who become inextricably connected as they share disappointments, sadness and joy in each of their lives over the years, despite rigid and unforgiving class barriers.
  • Sharon Metcalf
    Thrity Umrigar's novel The Space Between Us provided a snapshot into the lives and lifestyles of two Indian families, one wealthy and the other belonging to the underclass. Bhima and her mother and grandmother before her have all worked as servants in the homes of the wealthy. Bhima works in the home of Serabai Dubash and considers herself fortunate to belong to such a kind and understanding family, but she wants more for Maya her granddaughter w...