India holds a fascination for me, the age and differences in the culture, the juxtaposition of tremendous wealth and abject poverty. Today Thrity Umrigar comes to the blog today with the second in her Between Us series, the first I’ve read. Please read on for my review of
The Secrets Between Us
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.
Title: The Secrets Between Us
Author: Thrity Umrigar
Series: Between Us #2
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Literary Fiction /Family Saga, Setting: India
Published by: Harper
Published on: 26 June, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 12 Hours
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Direct from Publisher
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.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: