There Is Room for You A Novel

Charlotte Bacon




Trade Paperback

288 Pages



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In this richly braided narrative, we enter the lives of two very different women, an English mother and her American daughter, one raised in India and fleeing from it, one ignorant of India and rushing toward it. Charlotte Bacon's stunning novel explores not only the bonds between parents and children and the turbulence of suppressed family histories, but also the bravery needed to respond to the pains of others.

Anna Singer, a charmingly independent young New Yorker, is dazed with grief after the death of her father in a car accident and after losing her husband to a younger woman. Hoping to put her losses into perspective, she books a long trip to India, a country that she has never visited but that has always tantalized her: her reticent English mother, Rose, was raised in Calcutta during the twilight of the British Raj, but rarely spoke of this to her children. Then, just before Anna departs, Rose gives her a bundle of typewritten pages in which, it turns out, she has recounted her youth in India—growing up with a Hindu ayah and a widower father, coming of age in a time of cultural and political turmoil. Anna now faces the unexpected shocks of India today, along with the even greater surprise in store for her in her mother's memoir.

From the dual perspective of mother and daughter, There Is Room for You gives us India in all its daunting complexity and apparent indifference to individual pain. Anne and Rose must each discover in India where they are going and what they will call home, and so must others: an Israeli translator who needs independence and love as much as Anna does; a street waif Anna tries to rescue; a charming shopkeeper; two frightened English university students and the Spanish girls they befriend; Rose's English father (all science, spit and polish) and his extraordinary assistant, Krishna; and Rose's beloved ayah.

For Anna and Rose, the America they call home takes on new meaning in its contrast with turbulent India—whether it is New York's sophisticated professional milieu, where Anna wants to find herself; or the old house near Boston where she spent her childhood; or the seaside Maine cottage where her mother still seeks refuge. As the unforeseen parallels in the lives of Anna and Rose emerge, so does a nuanced contemplation of the nature of family and love in a world of profound suffering.


Praise for There Is Room for You

"Readable and sophisticated . . . [The reader is] unable to turn away from the ultimate fate of this vulnerable family, unsure of just how and where they fit together, but about to discover the way."—Christine Thomas, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

"There is Room for You is a richly endowed memory piece, a double narrative placing a daughter's quest for answers against a mother's reluctance to make the painful journey to the past. The evocation of India under the Raj is masterful, a pilgrimage that reclaims a lost world to enlighten the present. Charlotte Bacon is a seductive and gifted storyteller. There is Room for You is a compelling tale of longing for connection and a plea for reparation."—Maureen Howard, author of A Lover's Almanac

"Bacon brings a keen eye and a forgiving heart to this story of two women and two countries, mysteries to each other and mysteries to themselves. By the end, what has been illuminated is more than cultural complexity—it is the endless depth of mother-daughter sympathy, richly evoked against a fascinating background, a lost Calcutta we can smell and taste."—Rosellen Brown, author of Half a Heart

"In her second novel (after Lost Geography), Bacon spins a beguiling mother-daughter tale."—Library Journal

"A trip to India reveals long-hidden secrets and helps a daughter reconcile with her difficult mother in this intelligent, richly atmospheric second novel by Bacon . . . Bacon's obsession is memory, and this novel flows across continents and generations in a wash of poetic images and richly drawn portraits of a family constrained by its inability to open up."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Charlotte Bacon

  • Charlotte Bacon is the author of Lost Geography and the PEN/Hemingway Award-winning story collection A Private State. She teaches at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

  • Charlotte Bacon Brad Choyt