Last month’s book group read was The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar and I have to admit it was one of the most boring books I’ve ever read (or not read completely). I took it with me to read on the way to London and whilst it was my only reading material, I was gazing out the window about 20 pages in. I did soldier on to page 100 but gave in when it showed no sign of improving. I am usually able to find something positive to say about a book so I think it garnered a lot of interest on Twitter when I said was bored by it. However a few people at book group really enjoyed it so don’t let me put you off if you think it’s your thing!
The main problem is all the misery. As a statement of class divide and oppression of women in modern India, it’s pretty bleak. These women are miserable about everything and have not one iota of joy in their lives. Where is the strong female character to give us hope? Whilst I can imagine the things that happen do happen, I’m convinced India is better than that. It’s also rather anti-men.
Then there’s the lack of plot. There wasn’t much happening, just a meandering string of (miserable) stories going from one character to the next. Having discussed with the rest of the group, I missed nothing by stopping where I did. I’d already worked out what had happened to Maya and there’s no other major plot point to focus on to keep you reading.
Finally, the writing left me cold. There were no evocative descriptions of India, as one member said “it could be set anywhere”. The characters were not written in a way which made you sympathise for them, despite the horrible things that happen, I just didn’t care which left me feeling a bit heartless. Someone pointed out that her journalistic background might account for this; the descriptions are very matter of fact, however I have read some amazing books from journalists so I don’t think it’s an excuse.
So I wouldn’t recommend this personally, but if anyone would like my slightly read copy (and are in the UK) give me a shout and I’ll send it on. There are plenty of glowing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads after all…
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