The In-Between Woman is a short story taken from The Essential Tagore, it has been reproduced legally and free of charge at the Guernica magazine website.
Synopsis (written by me)
The In-Between Woman is the story of the two wives of one man. When wife number one becomes ill she insists that her husband takes a second wife. She raises the 8 year old girl but as the second wife grows up things begin to become strained.
I read a review of The In-Between Woman on The Reading Life and although I usually don’t even consider reading short stories this one sounded interesting enough to give a go, plus it was free! I suppose one good thing about short stories is that they are very quick to read, I managed to read the whole of this one on my i-pod while drinking coffee in Starbucks. There’s something quite satisfying about being able to read a whole story in one sitting like that.
I did find the story very interesting, the idea of a woman raising another woman to be her husband’s new wife seemed so alien to me. I liked the way the relationship between the two women progressed from a sort of mother-daughter relationship to a more competitive relationship. I didn’t find the change that authentic, but that was partly because it felt like a very abrupt change. I think in a longer story it could have been stretched out more so the reader could see how things gradually changed. I didn’t feel that much for the characters either for the same reason, I did quite like the first wife (who was the narrator) but didn’t feel like I really knew her, I mainly just felt pity, especially after she had opened her home to this woman.
I found the language was quite beautiful, and very descriptive. I can imagine a full length story by Tagore being the type I would describe as beautiful but I did feel description was needed in other sections, even if it didn’t give the reader such a vivid picture.
Still worth a read if you have a little time to spare.