Saturday, April 14, 2007

A Review of Two Books

I blinked myself back into my world after finishing a powerful novel by Thrity Umrigar, The Space Between Us, which had completely captured me. Sitting in my own space, I was introduced to Bombay, India, in a way I could never have been had I been there as a traveler. For a number of days I was connected to Bhima's life as a domestic servant of the well-to-do Sera, a Parsi housewife. Bhima, an illiterate domestic with serious troubles of her own, was for twenty years devoted to her educated and well brought up Sera. Devoted to one another, yet deep distances remained between them. The distance is physically shown while they sip tea together. Bhima sits on the floor while Sera sits at the table. Several family members object to Sera treating Bhima so kindly, knowing it can only lead to trouble. Rich and poor, and worlds apart, yet connected in ways we learn fully only at the end of the story. Book group members will like this book and it will make for an interesting and, perhaps, vigorous discussion.

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, introduced me to the world of the Circus. This novel came highly recommended and didn't fail to fascinate me. I wanted to sum it up by simply saying that a world of circus people and their relationships with one another and with the animals is bound to have lots of intrigue. But it's much more complicated than that and could take a good while to adequately describe. Trainers, acrobats, management, the Depression, freaks of nature, parades, and Rosie the elephant make up a tale full of passion, anger, love and hate--bound together to entertain while finding ways to survive.