Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thrity Thursdays or The Space Between Us Readalong

Welcome to Thrity Thursday, also known as The Space Between Us readalong. We'll be reading the book over the next five weeks. Thanks to these bloggers for joining me!

Ti at Book Chatter
Dar at Peeking Between The Pages
Staci at Life In The Thumb
Kathy at Mommy's Reading
Booksync at Book In The City
Bailey at The Window Seat Reader
Mari at Bookworm With A View

Chapters 1-6

My Synopsis:
Bhima and her granddaughter, Maya, live in the slums of Bombay. They've had to move there after Bhima's husband, Gopal, leaves her but Bhima had high hopes for Maya, who was going to college. But Maya is pregnant and Bhima is both angry and afraid; she can't let herself comfort Maya in anyone because she needs Maya to understand the shame this will bring on them.

Bhima has worked as a housekeeper for Sera Dubash, who also lives with her daughter Dinaz and son-in-law, Viraf. Dinaz is also pregnant. Sera likes to say that Bhima is one of the family but still treats her like a lower-class citizen. They have tea together, but Bhima isn't allowed to sit on a chair. On the other hand, it's Sera that saw the potential in Maya and has taken care of her education.

Even though Sera and Bhima believe that Maya should have an abortion, Bhima holds on to the hope that Maya will name the father of her baby and that he will do the honorable thing and Maya will make a good marriage. So when Maya finally gives Bhima a name, Bhima decides to find him at the college and confront him. But when she does, she discovers that Maya has lied; the boy she named hardly knows Maya and now word of Maya's pregnancy will spread over the campus, meaning that Maya cannot return.

Maya finally agrees to get an abortion but asks that Sera go with her rather than Bhima because she knows she will get better care if a woman of wealth is with her.

We also get some of the background of Sera when she visits the home of her mother-in-law, Banu, whom Sera calls "The Monster." Banu has suffered a stroke and is paralyzed; Sera visits her every day but pinches Banu's unfeeling cheek to prove a point. Banu treated her terribly when Sera and her husband, Feraz, lived with Banu and her husband, Freddy.

We also learn about Bhima's courtship with Gopal who pursued Bhima after meeting her at a cousin's wedding. When they marry he promises her a live of fun and that he will always treat her like a queen.

My Thoughts:
Well, then, that's a lot of names isn't it?! I'm thinking we've met almost everyone that's going to play a prominent part in this book. Classism is clearly going to be a huge theme here: Sera says she feels like Bhima is one of the family but clearly doesn't really feel that way; on more than one occasion the point is made that the wealthy will be treated better than the poor; even Bhima, who didn't always live in the slums, considers herself a step above the other residents because she doesn't feel like she belongs there.
"On the one hand, it makes her flush with pride when Serabai calls her "my Bhima" and talks about her proprietarily. On the other hand, she always seems to be doing things that undercut Bhima's interests. Life refusing Viraf baba's offer to buy a dishwasher. How nice it would be not to run her arthritic hands in water all day long."
I'm thinking that much will be made, also, of the difference between Maya's and Dinaz's pregnancies.

Much like I was with Umrigar's "The Weigh of Heaven," I was pulled right into this book. Her descriptions of Bhima's life are almost painful to read--so raw that I can't even make myself give you a quote. I think I'm going to have a hard time doling this one out a few chapters a week! If you're interested in joining us, it's not too late.


  1. I have this book on my shelf and am a big fan of Umrigar, so I will be paying close attention to these posts! Have you ever read Bombay Time? I thought it was a great read, and my first by the author.

  2. Oh geez!! I thought we were starting to read it today. Needless to say I am already behind.

    I will catch-up this weekend and post next week. I printed out the schedule.

  3. Have fun! I look forward to reading something by this author someday.

  4. So do you want us to post a synopsis on Thursdays??? I totally messed up!! but can post one tomorrow!! I'm loving this one so far and finding it hard not to press on and finish the book!!

  5. I think I will find it hard to read this one in installments too - I am completely engrossed!

    Thanks for hosting!

  6. Yikes, I misread the schedule too. I thought we were starting July 1 so I'm already behind. I'll get started tonight.

  7. I so wan to read this one. Actually I would like to read anything by this author :)

    I have read mixed reviews so far. I will be following your read :)

  8. It is the descriptions of squalor that stayed with me most strongly from this book. But without those details, you could never walk in the characters' shoes (or bare feet) and feel so strongly for them. I'm glad you are drawn in so strongly - it is a great book.

  9. I can still recall some of the details of the wonderful story, and I read it (2) years ago at least. Enjoy.

  10. So glad to hear this is a good story, I loved the Weight of Heaven. Won't get to it in time for your group but I'll watch for comments on it. Thanks for the heads up about Doctorow-he's too big a name not to try again so I will try Ragtime. Enjoy the rest of The Space between Us.