The Space Between is the story of two families who have been tied together for many years, yet live completely separate lives. Bhima is a servant who leaves her home in the slums of Bombay every morning to spend her day cooking and cleaning for an upper class family. Sera is the seemingly fortunate woman she works for who is hiding the fact she is in an abusive marriage. These two women spend the majority of each day together and have shared much of their lives, yet there is a barrier that can’t be crossed.
Sera has often used her family’s wealth and position to help Bhima through hard times, and has even promised to contribute money for Bhima’s granddaughter, Maya, to attend college. Bhima hopes are focused on Maya. She believes if Maya succeeds in college she will pull the family out of the slums forever. All of Bhima’s savings and sacrifices are threatened, though, when Maya turns up pregnant at 17. When Bhima turns to Sera for help once again, their fragile relationship is changed forever.
This novel gives a glimpse into a society which was difficult for me to understand. Sera seems to both care for Bhima and be repulsed by her at the same time. She gladly helps her when she can, but she will not allow Bhima to sit on her furniture or drink from her glasses. She is happy with the relationship the way it is and can’t cope with any changes that might come.
Umrigar’s writing is beautiful and I liked most of the characters even if I sometimes didn’t agree with what they chose to do. This book was also one of my book club’s favorite selections. It made for a great discussion.