I love reading novels centered primarily on women. I need no more than that to engage me while I am reading. So I was surprised when I received a galley from Harper a couple of months ago, titled, “The World We Found” by Thrity Umrigar and I was sucked in to the story from the word, Go. Let me also add here that the book is solely about four friends who are women and about their lives.
Laleh, Kavita, Armaiti and Nishta were four close friends in their Bombay college days 30 years ago. They were also revolutionaries fighting for causes and rights. However, as years have passed by, their lives are diverged; they have lost touch and have little in common but the one strong fact, of being friends. Tragedy strikes when Armaiti reaches out from America with news of Cancer and this is their last chance to be together as what they were.
The book works on various levels – friendship, love (friends and their lives with their spouses or not), the years they spent together and apart, the Bombay riots of 1992, and amidst all of this, the friends’ individualities – Laleh, the equal in her relationship, a rebel of sorts, Kavita – the successful architect, a lesbian, hiding the most important aspect of her life from her friends, Armaiti – who went away to America and Nishta – who married her college sweetheart and is now a different person due to him.
The husbands play their roles in the book, however mostly in the background, though without them the story wouldn’t have propelled ahead. Thrity Umrigar’s writing is weaved into layers and they unfold little by little, leaving the reader surprised and shocked, depending on the situation. The story is told through the perspectives of the four women and despite using this technique; the story has the fluidity it needs.
The characters are strong, introspective women. They do not shy away from what they have to say and how they must act. Umrigar’s women are bold, intelligent, loving and at the same time individualistic. The story is not something which is unusual or brilliant, it is however the writing and the pace that makes it what it is – a wondrous read, which will make the reader understand friendships better and how long lasting they are despite death looming over one of the friends. I would recommend this book to one and all. A must read according to me.