I read to escape and to learn. I like science fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers and adventure stories.
This is a gorgeous story about friendship, family relationships and the artificial barriers created between the classes in India. From the first page, I was sucked into the life of Bhima, a hardworking servant to an upper middle class, Parsi housewife named Sera. Bombay is powerfully present as the book opens with Bhima awakening to the sounds and smells of the slum around her. I felt I was right inside her head and eavesdropping on the constantly fluctuating emotions of these two women was wonderfully raw. Moving from compassion to resentment and love to hate in a flash, the author effortlessly weaves together the painful family histories as well as the current day story of these two women.
This book deals with a number of issues beautifully. How prejudices keep us apart. How it’s possible that people who work extremely hard can barely feed themselves or keep a roof over their heads. How we create stories about others who appear different in order to give ourselves a false sense of superiority. What happens to the human spirit when life beats you down. How do people have courage in the face of so much suffering?
I really loved this book.
Reviewed June 27, 2009