Saturday, 23 March 2019

Book Review: The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

Book: The Secrets Between Us

Author: Thrity Umrigar

Pages: 368

Read: The paperback edition pictured above

Read in: 4 hours or so

Plot Summary: 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.

General Thoughts: The Secrets between Us is the sequel to The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. Since we already had the book, I read it immediately! 

Things I Liked: 

1. This book picks up 2-3 days after the events of The Space Between Us and we find a very beaten and tired Bhima, who has, yet again, been dealt a rough hand by fate. She is struggling to find the ground beneath her feet and is afraid of starting over at her advanced age. However, she knows she does not have the luxury to wallow in self-pity. So, this book is all about Bhima and Maya and the new people they meet as they embark on a new journey away from the Dubashes. This book is seriously heartwarming! 

2. I really liked the unlikely bonds of kinship that we see forming in this book- between Bhima and Parvati, between Bhima, Maya and Chitra and Sunita (the young women Bhima cooks for) and also between all the other lovely people, who become an intrinsic part of Bhima's new career. (Not going to say much more on this as I don't want to spoil the book for you!)

3. I really liked Chitra as a character. She is open-minded, kind, spunky and does not see the differences between Bhima's class and her own. She just accepts Bhima and Maya as people and I love how she just takes Maya under her wing. Such a lovely, modern Indian woman archetype she is!  

4. Parvati is also an interesting, though slightly predictable, character. Bitter, taciturn, cynical and, often, (c)rude, she is loathe to trust anyone and yet, she and Bhima form an unlikely friendship, which is so heartwarming. I loved their partnership, loved seeing Parvati and Bhima take true pride in what they build together and just how they innovate in a business where there is little thought given to any kind of creative innovation. 

5. I liked Maya's growth in this book. She comes into her own and takes positive steps towards creating a better life for herself and Bhima. 

6. This book will warm your heart because it focuses on how people at the bottom of the economic pyramid in India are hustling hard to make their way up and it is true because there are so many such incredible stories of enterprising people, who've pulled themselves up against all odds. So lovely and inspiring! 

Things I Didn't Like: One very minor thing- the ending seemed too contrived and convenient, but I can let that slide. No big deal. 

Rating: 5/5 
Highly recommend this duo of books. You'll love the characters and their journeys so much! 

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