The Secrets Between Us
Bhima, the unforgettable main character of Thrity Umrigar’s beloved national bestseller The Space Between Us, returns in this triumphant sequel—a poignant and compelling novel in which the former servant struggles against the circumstances of class and misfortune to forge a new path for herself and her granddaughter in modern India."It isn’t the words we speak that make us who we are. Or even the deeds we do. It is the secrets buried in our hearts."Poor and illiterate, Bhima had faithfully worked for the Dubash family, an upper-middle-class Parsi household, for more than twenty years. Yet after courageously speaking the truth about a heinous crime perpetrated against her own family, the devoted servant was cruelly fired. The sting of that dismissal was made more painful coming from Sera Dubash, the temperamental employer who had long been Bhima’s only confidante. A woman who has endured despair and loss with stoicism, Bhima must now find some other way to support herself and her granddaughter, Maya.Bhima’s fortunes take an unexpected turn when her path intersects with Parvati, a bitter, taciturn older woman. The two acquaintances soon form a tentative business partnership, selling fruits and vegetables at the local market. As they work together, these two women seemingly bound by fate grow closer, each confessing the truth about their lives and the wounds that haunt them. Discovering her first true friend, Bhima pieces together a new life, and together, the two women learn to stand on their own.A dazzling story of gender, strength, friendship, and second chances, The Secrets Between Us is a powerful and perceptive novel that brilliantly evokes the complexities of life in modern India and the harsh realities faced by women born without privilege as they struggle to survive.

The Secrets Between Us Details

TitleThe Secrets Between Us
Author
ReleaseJun 26th, 2018
PublisherHarper
ISBN-139780062442208
Rating
GenreFiction, Cultural, India, Literary Fiction

The Secrets Between Us Review

  • Will Byrnes
    January 1, 1970
    “It isn’t the words we speak that make us who we are. Or even the deeds we do. It is the secrets buried in our hearts.” ---------------------------------------Is it the special curse of women, to keep other people’s secrets and carry their shame? What would happen, she wonders, if all of them…simply put down their loads one day and refused to pick them up again? Bhima is 65 years old, illiterate, and newly sacked. In her wonderful 2006 novel, The Space Between Us, Thrity Umrigar introduced us “It isn’t the words we speak that make us who we are. Or even the deeds we do. It is the secrets buried in our hearts.” ---------------------------------------Is it the special curse of women, to keep other people’s secrets and carry their shame? What would happen, she wonders, if all of them…simply put down their loads one day and refused to pick them up again? Bhima is 65 years old, illiterate, and newly sacked. In her wonderful 2006 novel, The Space Between Us, Thrity Umrigar introduced us to Bhima, who had been working in Mumbai for Sera Dubash, a well-to-do Parsi woman, and showed the bonds that can develop between two women across class lines. That relationship ended badly, though, and now after thirty years in Sera’s employ, Bhima is just scraping by, having picked up whatever house-cleaning clients she could find. She is raising her granddaughter, a teenager, the girl’s mother and father both having passed away in the earlier book. She lives with Maya in a single-room in a slum, but is determined that her granddaughter will have a better life than she has had.Thrity Umrigar - image from Case Western ReserveParvati has had it even worse. In her seventies, she works in an open market, selling wrinkled cauliflower from a space she has been working for a very long time. She has a considerable growth on her neck and another, more troubling, on her back. Parvati is a bitter old woman, and with good cause. She had a singularly challenging childhood, suffering multiple betrayals, and abuse of diverse sorts. Her appearance, harsh demeanor, and razor sharp tongue have given her a reputation as someone to be avoided.While The Secrets Between Us is a sequel to The Space Between Us, it is definitely ok to read this one without having read the former. But I would suggest that you seek out a summary of the events in the earlier novel, maybe here or here.The core story here is how Bhima and Parvati find each other, develop a partnership, and slowly get past the secrets they have been carrying around for so long. The core motif is the power of secrets, how they can tear people apart, and once revealed, bring people together. It is a heart-warming tale, as the two older women bond over time, joining forces to make their way in a world that has mostly shunned them, lower class women in a developing nation, all the more endangered by the changes going on around them. That change is made manifest here by the construction of a sparkling new mall that will likely displace many who work in the market square. Everywhere Parvati looks these days, the city is shining. New shops selling brand-name clothes and jewelry spring up daily. New, expensive restaurants outside of which young people stand in line to enter. Shops selling fifty flavors of ice cream… This new Mumbai hates its old. Every day, old stone buildings are being torn down to make way for tall buildings, thin as pencils poking up into the sky… But the biggest change of all, Parvati thinks, is in the people. The Mumbai she has known has never been a gentle, forgiving place. But the old Bombay, the Bombay of Raj Kapoor and Nargis, had a sweetness to it, a childlike innocence. This new Mumbai is fast-paced, coarse, indifferent. She sees that indifference in the blankness in the eyes of the office crowd—whether it steps over a centipede or a homeless person, it’s all the same. The secrets of the title permeate. Parvati’s past is a very large secret, or collection of secrets, whereas Bhima’s is a smaller sample, albeit painful. Both hold other people’s secrets as well as their own. Most characters have at least one significant thing to hide, even the almost-too-good-to-be-true Maya. There is much in here about the weight of secrets, not in the sense of knowledge is power, but more in the sense that secrets are heavy and toting them about for so long takes a toll. Mostly, this is a story about having no power over one’s own life, and trying to get some. Will she never have a say-so in any aspect of her life? [Parvati] wonders. Does she have no more choice in deciding her own destiny than one of her cauliflowers? Like them, she has been bought and sold, sliced and diced, moved from one corner of the city to another. They were both held back by the ignorance and restrictions of traditional values that defined one’s range of possible futures within the confines of caste. They were victimized by rules that offered protection only to those who took advantage of them. Parvati has a particularly dark perspective on relations between men and women, in both the old society and the new. “Every day fathers get their daughters married off to men thirty years older. Or to men who are cripples or imbeciles, or deaf and mute. Why? To pay a smaller dowry. Every day fathers kill girls who have been raped by the men in their village. Why? Because the girl has stained the family name by getting raped. Honor killings, they call them…Wake up, sister. Look around. Right now, probably half the men here have fucked their sisters. Or their daughters. Or betrayed their wives.” The uplift is in seeing how they are able to overcome and apply their gifts, their strength, courage, resourcefulness, and intelligence, to making a go of it, working for themselves. Umrigar is nothing if not a smart, insightful writer, so her two lead characters are drawn fully, with depth and texture of their own. Bhima carries prejudices from her traditional life that no longer make sense, as she comes to realize how the ignorance and bigotry she grew up with and still carries could harm others. Parvati has abandoned any hope for her life, is bitter, angry, and off-putting, is eager, even, to greet death, but is heartened by finding an outlet for her gifts, and appreciation for her strengths, so finds some light in the darkness.A lovely part of the story is Bhima’s relationship with a couple she still cleans for, a couple who treat her as if she were family and not just an employee or a servant. A couple who represents some of the positive changes in the new India. The love from this connection glows like a sun, incorporating not just Bhima but Parvati and Maya. In joining forces all these women create a family.One interesting tidbit is that while she was growing up middle class in India, Umrigar’s family employed a servant named Bhima. Teen Thrity tried to get to know as much about her as she could. She was also exposed to the poverty for which India is famous, and that instilled in her a desire to do away with inexcusable class differences. Umrigar has made a career of portraying the clashing of cultures, the intersection of globalization and traditional ways, of the Indian caste system encountering a modernizing world. Her stories often look at the separation and connection between haves and have-nots, between men and women. She continues that large-scope concern here, through the lens of the women’s individual stories. The Secrets Between Us is about the position of women in society, both as a gender and as pawns in the caste system, and the deadly toll poverty takes from people’s lives. One of the upsides of a modernizing India is that, along with the challenges it presents, it also offers opportunities that were not available before. And there is deep poignancy as well. The bond between Bhima and Parvati is incredibly moving, as Umrigar shows the small steps that are taken in developing their friendship, the barriers to closeness peeling back with each new shared intimacy. Bhima’s devotion to Maya is palpable, even though she sees a difficult time ahead should she achieve her goal. …Maya has changed. It is a change Bhima can sense but not define. All she knows is that this change is rampant in the whole city. There is a loosening of mores and an old way of life—that of respecting your elders, knowing your station in life, knowing that women had to behave in a certain way—is coming to a close. This very education that Bhima has paid for with every drop of sweat, every tired and straining muscle in her body, will be the knife that someday will sever the ties between her and Maya. For a split second, Bhima sees this as clearly as she sees her own fingernails, the next minute, all she sees before her is an almost-grown girl jumping up and down with excitement. Downsides? A few. Maya seemed a bit pliant for a teenager, even given the traumas she had experienced in the prior book. On the other hand, one could also look at her devotion to Bhima as a result of Bhima coming through for her big time when her world was falling apart. So, maybe, maybe not. Also, solutions to the challenges Bhima and Parvati faced seemed sometimes a bit too easy. I suppose one could say the solutions were the product of the characters’ ingenuity and base of knowledge, so, maybe, maybe not. There is a definite tendency to tell rather than show that pops up a bit too often. Umrigar uses some Hindi words in the narrative, and, while it is certainly possible to understand them from context, it would have been a nice thing to have had a glossary appended.It was lovely to see Bhima, a good person in the earlier book, find her way forward against considerable challenges, particularly as that route entailed taking on some labors that were outside her experience. Seniors Rock! I loved how one of Bhima’s clients, Chitra, was shown, embodying an openness denied by tradition. But the largest treat for me in this book was Parvati. She is an amazing character, tough as nails, because she had to be, because that is what life forced on her. She has a chilling history, and a depth of character that allowed her to survive. Bhima may be the central pillar around which this tale is constructed, but I bet you will remember Parvati for a long, long time. Pssssst. It is no secret that Thrity Umrigar is one of our best novelists, as she keeps proving, again and again and again. You are in for a satisfying read with The Secrets Between Us, as it boasts engaging characters, a moving story, and significant content on power, class and gender relations in India, old and new. But don’t let anyone know I said so, ok?Review posted – July 6, 2018Publication date – June 26, 2018=============================EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pagesItems-----Interview – June 28, 2018 - Caroline Leavitt’s blog -----Article by TU – May 5, 2016 – Huffington Post - Bernie Bros Made Me Finally Recognize Misogyny in AmericaReviews of prior books by Thrity Umrigar-----The Space Between Us - 2008-----The Weight of Heaven - 2009-----The World We Found - 2011-----Everybody’s Son - 2016
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  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    From the beginning, I was drawn in by the writing as I remember being when I read The Space Between Us. The story of Bhima, a poor servant continues as she works two jobs struggling to provide for her granddaughter Maya. I immediately felt as if I was back in the awful conditions, the poverty and dangers of a slum in Mumbai. It’s hard to believe that this is modern day India, but a quick internet search will lead you to numerous articles on the slums that exist in India today. As the sad things From the beginning, I was drawn in by the writing as I remember being when I read The Space Between Us. The story of Bhima, a poor servant continues as she works two jobs struggling to provide for her granddaughter Maya. I immediately felt as if I was back in the awful conditions, the poverty and dangers of a slum in Mumbai. It’s hard to believe that this is modern day India, but a quick internet search will lead you to numerous articles on the slums that exist in India today. As the sad things that happened to Bhima are recalled and the hard life she lives, I thought it couldn’t get any worse, until we meet Parvati, an ailing woman who sells nearly rotted vegetables at the market because that’s all she can afford to buy and sell. Her story felt like it was just too much at times, but I don’t doubt the author is depicting the reality. Bhima recognizes the importance of education and that the only way out of the slum, out of the poverty is for Maya to continue with college. Bhima represents perhaps, the hopes of so many living there who struggle to lift themselves up when so much is stacked against them. Umigar, through the character of Sera Dubash, Bhima’s previous employer from the first novel, shows that women even in the upper class can be subjected to and suffer at the hands of male dominance. This is not easy to read at times. It’s about the the haves and the have nots and is a commentary on class, but thankfully touching on the possibility of changing attitudes. It’s about friendships, hardships, identity and self esteem, about women with strength of character who somehow manage to uplift the reader in spite of their tough circumstances. It’s been a while since I read The Space Between Us. Having read that was my main reason for wanting to read this one. It could probably be read as a stand alone since some of what happened in the first book is reflected on here, but I think it was a more meaningful story having known Bhima from the first book. I received an advanced copy of this book from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    Grateful is how I am feeling. Grateful for this story that has threaded its way into my heart and makes me appreciate the life I have. For although there is always something that could be better, the lives of these women will make you rethink the positives and at least, temporarily, discard the negatives.The sequel to the space between us, continues in this exquisite tale of a Woman, Bhima, who struggles with poverty and bringing up her only grandchild alone, until an opportunity presents hersel Grateful is how I am feeling. Grateful for this story that has threaded its way into my heart and makes me appreciate the life I have. For although there is always something that could be better, the lives of these women will make you rethink the positives and at least, temporarily, discard the negatives.The sequel to the space between us, continues in this exquisite tale of a Woman, Bhima, who struggles with poverty and bringing up her only grandchild alone, until an opportunity presents herself. She develops an alliance with an older, poorer, more cynical woman. Together they form a relationship of respect and through time finally share the secrets of the past that have remained hidden for fear of shame and humiliation. Umigar takes us on a human journey of self and selflessness. At times loathing and shaming; others, victorious and rewarding in small successes that boost the human spirit in hope-in the darkness and depths of poverty where one dares to rarely elevate from.5⭐️ for the yellow kite that now floats freely and mends the broken past.
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  • Esil
    January 1, 1970
    I have read a few books by Thrity Umrigar, and I think this is my favourite so far. The Secrets Between Us features some of the same characters as her earlier book The Space Between Us. Set in Mumbai, India, the story focuses on Bhima and Parvati, two older women with difficult pasts living precarious lives. Bhima lives in a slum with her granddaughter, surviving on income made from cleaning and cooking for others. Parvati barely survives by selling six heads of cauliflower every day. Both women I have read a few books by Thrity Umrigar, and I think this is my favourite so far. The Secrets Between Us features some of the same characters as her earlier book The Space Between Us. Set in Mumbai, India, the story focuses on Bhima and Parvati, two older women with difficult pasts living precarious lives. Bhima lives in a slum with her granddaughter, surviving on income made from cleaning and cooking for others. Parvati barely survives by selling six heads of cauliflower every day. Both women are hardened and guarded in their own ways — Bhima determined to be proper and Parvati quick to be irreverent. Through necessity, the women forge a business relationship and eventually a friendship selling produce together in the market. Their backstories are heartbreaking, but this is also a forward looking book, suggesting that there is room in modern India for women to be more independent and for the class system to lose some of its rigidity. This isn’t a literary masterpiece, but I really liked the characters — especially the relationship between Bhima and Parvati — and found the story kept me reading. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
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  • Alyson
    January 1, 1970
    Can I give this 6 stars? Everyone needs to read The Space Between Us and then get ready to read this when it comes out.
  • Jeanette
    January 1, 1970
    This is a favorite author and her tales are never boring. And they highlight Indian cities and life during the most modern times of change.Having said that, I also have to post this. That this is so sad and filled with tragedy that it can hardly be held as an "enjoyable" read. I stopped 1/2 way through for some days while reading much lighter and more joyful. If you like the "light at the end of the tunnel" kind of development of hope or tolerance or friendship surmounting all in a death hour de This is a favorite author and her tales are never boring. And they highlight Indian cities and life during the most modern times of change.Having said that, I also have to post this. That this is so sad and filled with tragedy that it can hardly be held as an "enjoyable" read. I stopped 1/2 way through for some days while reading much lighter and more joyful. If you like the "light at the end of the tunnel" kind of development of hope or tolerance or friendship surmounting all in a death hour declaration style- and like to cry or seek out cry reads as favorites perhaps- then you will like this continuation of The Space Between Us far more than I did. Because in aspects it reminds me of the Job tale in the Bible. And every stereotype of miserable comes clearly around, despite all the poetic language surrounding the fact of it.Truthfully, I would give it 3.5 stars rounded up for the excellent depiction of a personality with one set of values being made massively and most usually invisible or completely irrelevant by the sensibilities and standards of another time. And so having to adjust. Somehow. I rounded it up for her two principle women characters and how well she defined their conversations with each other. That was 5 star.The "embarrassed" and "neglected" old women experience here might (I think probably) contain some equivalency for a majority of the populations of females on this entire earth that happened to be born in the first 1/2 of the 20th century and still remain alive today. Because the social and practical people to people approach (society in general too) is quite angrier and more selfish now than it was in their youth. Not by the judgments of the modern "enlightened" but by the comparisons of experiences for masses of those humans (not only the women either) within those varying periods. Despite wars and other terrible social detriments, the structures of family, community etc. were so much more defined. Strictures of class and other myriads of sensibilities and their perspectives of how "success" demonstrates itself to the wider community and to your own family and to other individuals (even to the thoughts of self-identity) are changed. As they are here within the very most important tenets and goals of these women's lives. And within the poorest strains of India- it's just magnified the "values" that have changed for the sacrifices that have been lived. This is about two older women primarily, their life sacrifices and tales- and the values they are given for their lives. Even unto their own values for themselves and the values they give each other. Bhima from The Space Between Us is one of them. I think you'd miss some of the ambiance in this if you had not read that book first. It's about different types of friendships too. But it is filled with betrayals, tragedy, and some ultimate social queasiness to place and being "comfortable" in the places they are too. I found the names very difficult. More than in her previous books. And also I am ignorant of at least half of the foods, so that made some of the Parsi and also other allusions to comparisons nearly impossible for me to understand.For some readers it will also be about the reaction of the youngest generations to a "success" model or ideal. And to others it might be about empowerment in general. Especially if you are rather in the school of "Mother Teresa" types of solutions, which I'm not. Yet is it ultimately a very sad and painful history that you will read.
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  • Carla Suto
    January 1, 1970
    THE SECRETS BETWEEN US by Thrity Umrigar is a beautifully-written and moving sequel to her bestselling novel, THE SPACE BETWEEN US. The sequel could be read as a stand-alone, but the story was even more meaningful to me because of everything I learned about the characters from the first book. Set in modern day Mumbai, THE SECRETS BETWEEN US picks up the story of Bhima, an impoverished servant who struggles against class limitations and sad twists of fate to provide a better life for herself and THE SECRETS BETWEEN US by Thrity Umrigar is a beautifully-written and moving sequel to her bestselling novel, THE SPACE BETWEEN US. The sequel could be read as a stand-alone, but the story was even more meaningful to me because of everything I learned about the characters from the first book. Set in modern day Mumbai, THE SECRETS BETWEEN US picks up the story of Bhima, an impoverished servant who struggles against class limitations and sad twists of fate to provide a better life for herself and her granddaughter, Maya. Bhima’s life takes an unexpected turn when she crosses paths with Parvati, a bitter old woman who is even worse off than Bhima. By learning to trust each other and sharing some of their secrets, they forge a strong bond that lifts them up from their pasts and empowers them both with hope for the future. Umrigar writes with vivid honesty about the unimaginably horrible conditions and ever-present danger in the slums. I was completely drawn in to this powerful story of love, family, friendship and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unspeakable adversity. This emotional and thought-provoking book is sure to stay with me for a long time to come. I won an early copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
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  • Mainlinebooker
    January 1, 1970
    Although this novel is a sequel to The Space between Us, it is perfectly fine to read as a stand alone. Heartbreaking,yet uplifting with coarse yet authentic dialogue, it had me mesmerized from the very start. Two women, living in the Mumbai slums, find their worlds intersecting as they try to eke out a living,beginning to understand and appreciate one another's strengths. Bhima, coming from a loving marriage, works diligently to try to provide an education for her granddaughter Maya. In the mar Although this novel is a sequel to The Space between Us, it is perfectly fine to read as a stand alone. Heartbreaking,yet uplifting with coarse yet authentic dialogue, it had me mesmerized from the very start. Two women, living in the Mumbai slums, find their worlds intersecting as they try to eke out a living,beginning to understand and appreciate one another's strengths. Bhima, coming from a loving marriage, works diligently to try to provide an education for her granddaughter Maya. In the market she meets Parvati, a dour thick skinned elderly lady, selling her few measly cauliflowers as she squats on her haunches trying to make bare ends meet. Their worlds collide here as they both begin to develop an appreciation of each other's strengths, as they peel away the layers of prejudice and open the doorways to beginning communication with one another. By sharing their untold secrets, they learn respect and love for one another. There is so much to be gained in exploring this book as it plows through caste systems, prejudice, gay relationships, brothels and the meaning of sacrifice. As painful as some passages may be, and indeed, I shed quite a few tears, this is ultimately an uplifting experience and not to be missed.
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  • Lisa Cobb Sabatini
    January 1, 1970
    I won an Uncorrected Proof of The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar from Goodreads.A powerful and empowering story about women, the bonds they forge, and the embers of hope they keep aflame, The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar is a formidable novel for our times.Bhima must find a way not only to survive, but also to keep her granddaughter in college. Having been cast out by her longtime employer, feeling lost and alone, Bhima keeps putting one foot in front of the other, never realizing I won an Uncorrected Proof of The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar from Goodreads.A powerful and empowering story about women, the bonds they forge, and the embers of hope they keep aflame, The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar is a formidable novel for our times.Bhima must find a way not only to survive, but also to keep her granddaughter in college. Having been cast out by her longtime employer, feeling lost and alone, Bhima keeps putting one foot in front of the other, never realizing that she is, in fact, taking giant steps of hope and of faith in herself. Along the way, she casts out a net that pulls in other women, each a surprise and a challenge to Bhima's ways off thinking about the world and about herself. Will each woman, a castaway in her own way, hang onto hope and find a home?Thrity Umrigar's beautiful, moving novel, The Secrets Between Us, takes readers on a journey through the slums and marketplaces, the caste system and the new emerging society of India, and, most importantly, the hearts and spirits of women.
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  • Ann
    January 1, 1970
    I've loved everything I've read by this author.
  • Joan Eisenstodt
    January 1, 1970
    It is not absolutely required to read Thrity Umrigar's "The Space Between Us" before reading this book that is a sequel to it. It is however smart to do so -- because the writing in each and learning the background of the characters is so critical to understanding "The Secrets".Ms. Umrigar's writing is magnificent - her ability to help us understand the setting, the people, the circumstances in which they live matters esp. for those of us who have not experienced cultures outside our own.What oc It is not absolutely required to read Thrity Umrigar's "The Space Between Us" before reading this book that is a sequel to it. It is however smart to do so -- because the writing in each and learning the background of the characters is so critical to understanding "The Secrets".Ms. Umrigar's writing is magnificent - her ability to help us understand the setting, the people, the circumstances in which they live matters esp. for those of us who have not experienced cultures outside our own.What occurred to me as I read, as I have with her other books - but even more this one - is the accidents of birth- the who/what/when/where of us. I started reading this book hoping for an escape after an esp. bad week of sad news of the way the world is treating immigrants. I confess to, even from the dedication, being overwhelmed with sadness and not feeling better. I put the book down for a few days before I could pick it up again.As are most of Ms. Umrigar's books, this is one I didn't want to end and didn't want to read on. What I found as I _did_ read on was the remarkable humanity that many are capable of and that I wish we could instill in more people. More than that will make this review a spoiler and I don't want to.Just read both books. Just do.
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  • Gaele
    January 1, 1970
    Not quite knowing what to expect, the story instantly brought me to Bhima as she is continuing her journey to find a place in the world that is fulfilling and her own, despite the slums that surround her, the challenges, and the never ending list of things to do, get, or overcome. The one constant in Bhima’s day is the challenges, and these range from simple: earning enough for food and a roof over her head, to the struggle to provide for her granddaughter so she will finish university and move Not quite knowing what to expect, the story instantly brought me to Bhima as she is continuing her journey to find a place in the world that is fulfilling and her own, despite the slums that surround her, the challenges, and the never ending list of things to do, get, or overcome. The one constant in Bhima’s day is the challenges, and these range from simple: earning enough for food and a roof over her head, to the struggle to provide for her granddaughter so she will finish university and move on to greater challenges with larger potential upsides. Throughout the changing face (and fortunes) of India, all is affecting outcomes for the ‘least’ of society: the poor and constantly downtrodden who have struggled to grab a place of insecure security. When Bhima loses her long-time position as a housekeeper, she’s determined to keep her granddaughter moving toward that degree: one step in front of another she epitomizes the hope, the determination and the struggle, alone and soon with others, to move onto a higher plane of subsistence: one that despite their subjugation as both desperately poor and women that gives this story an outward ‘feel’ of hopeless desperation. But only at first glance: as slowly each woman encountered provides insight, support and examples for the others in their constant daily battles, as they strive for self-determination and independence. Umrigar has crafted a story that feels honest and open in the tale: it’s not a disinfected dialogue on the power of the human spirit, but actual challenges, scenes, and situations that breathe life into the story and it’s characters. Not always an easy read as moments and places are described with such detail as to place you on that corner, in that close room with the heat, scents and ever-present monster of despair as it waits to pounce are palpable, following every turn of the page and causing you to pay attention, see the heroines for what they are, and marvel at their strength, heart and determination to move past their beginnings as they create opportunities for those who are yet to come. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. Review first appeared at I am, Indeed
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    An incredible follow-up to what remains my favorite book of all time, The Space Between Us. Lyrical depiction of relationships, gender, societal change -- all set in Mumbai, which is itself a character in this real-to-life novel. A powerful book.
  • Ellen
    January 1, 1970
    Sequels often lose the power of the first book, but Umrigar offers up a strong, moving finish for the characters we meet in The Space Between Us. Bhima is living in poverty with her granddaughter, Maya. Bhima’s efforts are all on behalf of the effort to ensure Maya go to college and escape the life she has had, working always for others. A new complex character, Pavarti, becomes key in Bhima’s life as she and Bhima struggle against their past. Outlining the difficulties of being a woman in India Sequels often lose the power of the first book, but Umrigar offers up a strong, moving finish for the characters we meet in The Space Between Us. Bhima is living in poverty with her granddaughter, Maya. Bhima’s efforts are all on behalf of the effort to ensure Maya go to college and escape the life she has had, working always for others. A new complex character, Pavarti, becomes key in Bhima’s life as she and Bhima struggle against their past. Outlining the difficulties of being a woman in India and offering us portraits of strength and resilience, I highly recommend this novel.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    I read the first book, The Space Between Us and loved it. I intended to read this one shortly thereafter and was sidetracked. Thankfully this weekend, I was able to read this book and it was like no time had passed since I had read the first! To be fair, if you missed the first book you probably could read this one without feeling like you missed something. Thrity Umrigar has such a poetic, beautiful writing style that I just fall in love with her words. She captures the essence of human emoti I read the first book, The Space Between Us and loved it. I intended to read this one shortly thereafter and was sidetracked. Thankfully this weekend, I was able to read this book and it was like no time had passed since I had read the first! To be fair, if you missed the first book you probably could read this one without feeling like you missed something. Thrity Umrigar has such a poetic, beautiful writing style that I just fall in love with her words. She captures the essence of human emotion, the struggles and harsh realities that her characters must endure and yet, she does so in such a way that you end up deeply touched and wanting to continue to take it all in.I am simply captivated by her work! Highly recommended!
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  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    This is the sequel to her compelling "The Space Between Us" that I read and rated 4.5. Umrigar outdid herself with this coninuation of Bhimi and Sera's story of friendship and betrayal with the addition of another great character, Parvati. Although this is a work of fiction, I'm painfully aware that many women do lead extremely difficult lives but they still manage to hold onto their pride and their dignity. This book has taught me that I must be more grateful for the blessings I've been given.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    A solid follow-up and finish to The Space Between Us. I do wonder if the author felt compelled to write it in order to give a happy ending to characters that suffered so much during the first book. Much of what happened would have been unlikely in real life and mildly overly serendipitous but the author uses it to continue to examine the choices we make, empathy, and changing attitudes towards traditionalism in society.
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  • Shae Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    What a great story! It is about two Indian widows who meet, don’t like each other, but finally reveal each other’s lives to each other. It is about accepting people for who they are without judgement. It is about compassion, understanding, and love for your fellow man/woman. It is about when you show compassion for others, you begin to live yourself. Really a good book! I highly recommend.
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  • Andrea
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Finally a sequel that dares not to disappoint. Can also be read as a stand alone as she provides enough references to her amazing Space Between Us. This author is both a poet whose writing exudes eloquence and an artist as her descriptions paint portraits of her characters and their surroundings. This is a must read!!!
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  • Roryz
    January 1, 1970
    I first discovered Umrigar when I lived in Ohio- she is on the faculty at Case Western Reserve . Although her books are about people from different backgrounds and culture, her stories are compelling and I find myself enthralled with every word. For the most part, she writes about women and their problems- marginalized, frozen in a society that treats them badly, but what stories their lives make! I’m also glad to have finished an Umrigar book.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Tears. And book hangover. And allllllll the feels. I will update this further later.
  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Devoured it. The horrors of poverty in modern India; the triumph of opening one’s heart; of trusting; friendship; sharing the secrets that we wear as an albatross around our hearts!
  • Karen Raskin
    January 1, 1970
    Despite depictions of terrible poverty in modern India, this book has an endearing sweetness to it (but which veers on being too simple). Overall a very good read, despite fairy tale ending.
  • Gail Nelson
    January 1, 1970
    I just loved this one!
  • Nez
    January 1, 1970
    I am so glad the author wrote this sequel - I liked it more than the first book. This book is so rich: the beautiful writing, the suffering, the connection, life's lessons. Heartbreaking, and hopeful at the same time. Just like life.
  • Lauren Bernard
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this one just as much as the first. Adored the characters, cried my eyes out. A fantastic book.
  • Tracy
    January 1, 1970
    So many phrases from this book I meant to save.....so beautifully written! Sometimes you think it's the people who are different form you that can't see what's going on around you...and sometimes you find out it's you who isn't seeing.
  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    Thrity Umrigar continues the story from her book The Space Between Us with a novel that again portrays Bhima as a woman of character, depth and strength doing her best to accommodate change in her life. So many changes for Bhima on a societal and personal level: the cultural disruption involving class and manners; the progressing role of women; the acknowledgement and acceptance of lesbian relationships; the new life of independence and education for Maya, her granddaughter. Their lives are comp Thrity Umrigar continues the story from her book The Space Between Us with a novel that again portrays Bhima as a woman of character, depth and strength doing her best to accommodate change in her life. So many changes for Bhima on a societal and personal level: the cultural disruption involving class and manners; the progressing role of women; the acknowledgement and acceptance of lesbian relationships; the new life of independence and education for Maya, her granddaughter. Their lives are complicated, navigating old and new customs, past tragedies and pain. Yet, there is an underlying hope for the future that keeps them striving to move beyond the poverty and struggle. The characters in The Secrets Between Us become friends, and the changes in Indian society are portrayed in a meaningful manner. Parvati, who has suffered a lifetime of humiliation and trauma, manages to work her way into the heart of both Bhima and the reader. The author does an amazing feat when she creates a setting in an Indian slum that conveys both the humanity and inhumanity of the situation. An inspiring reminder of the strength of spirit and the power of love in the unlikeliest of circumstances. Immortality in fiction is achieved through the impact the characters have on each other, and on the reader.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    As always, Umrigar’s writing is beautiful and haunting. This story of two widows living in the slums of Mumbai, each burdened by her secrets, is full of hope and love.
  • Pree Bee
    January 1, 1970
    When you thought sequels could never be better than the first book, this one out shines the first, imho. I didn't want to like this book, because I had loved the first book so much. The open ending.I went to a book discussion recently where Thrity herself was there, and she mentioned she hated the idea of a sequel and loved open endings, yet so many people has written to her for a sequel.I had no idea the sequel would be as moving, like an emotional typhoon, compared to the first book.Thrity's s When you thought sequels could never be better than the first book, this one out shines the first, imho. I didn't want to like this book, because I had loved the first book so much. The open ending.I went to a book discussion recently where Thrity herself was there, and she mentioned she hated the idea of a sequel and loved open endings, yet so many people has written to her for a sequel.I had no idea the sequel would be as moving, like an emotional typhoon, compared to the first book.Thrity's story telling transported me back to my own childhood in India, my neighborhood marketplace, me going to school, my father's village, my mother's side family neighborhood, walking by the slums, and the over all feel of India. The imagery, the cultural accuracy of the language, and isms really brings India to you. The nostalgia the book evokes in me, vs perhaps the exoticness or whatever it may evoke in others who did not grow up there is so vivid, real, and something you can touch.After reading this book, I wish I can spin tales as she does, and move people from joy to sadness, to utter pain, and back to joy as she does so gently, and yet so brutally.This book had the theme of secrets, vs space. The loads we burden ourselves with because we do not wish to disclose it out of shame, fear, or secrecy. The story has recurring characters as well as some new characters. This story juxtaposes many themes, which I loved, and brought confirmation to some of my own feelings... and most of all closure for those who need closure.
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