September 11, 2007
Thrity Umrigar's "The Space Between us" Has the Reader Falling Through.
Ms. Umrigar's "The Space Between Us" left too large a space between reality and fiction for the reader to suspend his disbelief and lose himself in the book. The novel is about the life and relationships of and between two older women at opposite ends of the economic spectrum in Mumbai, a metropolitan city in Western India.
Through the life experiences of these two women Thrity umrigar tries to highlight the plight of women in India regardless of and despite their economic status. The oppression of women and their secondary status in a 'progressive' India seems to be the theme of the novel; a theme that loses punch due to the pervasive and unending gloom that engulfs the story. There is no respite whatsoever!
The two main female characters, Bheema and Sera, though survivors in a male-dominated world, are not convincing, and very often the reader has to take the narrators word to believe in their strength and fortitude. The male characters follow in the same pattern and are stereotypical male chauvanists, some covert and others wearing their male pride on their sleeve. Maya, the young pregnant daughter of Bheema, the servant woman in Sera Dubash's household, is perhaps the only character who stands ground, and only because Ms. Umrigar did not have much to do with her! Maya the character is sidelined by the author; yet, it is she who leaves a lasting impact on the reader.
To be fair to the writer, "The Space Between Us" was well received by the public when it was published in 2005. However, I chose to read it for the lack of having anything better to read. If that is not the case with you, then, you may perhaps want to pass this one.