A hundred pages into this book and quite smitten, I took it to my son’s dance class to read while I waited for him to finish. His teacher, a compact,A hundred pages into this book and quite smitten, I took it to my son’s dance class to read while I waited for him to finish. His teacher, a compact, high energy woman, with enviously defined muscles, stopped, her face lighting up at the sight of me with the book in my hands. “You’re reading that!” she exclaimed. “That is one of only two books I’ve actually finished.” It’s hard for me to even hear someone say that they can’t get through a book but I suppose it is a testament to what the book offers when someone who typically can’t, not only does but loves it. She goes on to explain, with only 20 minutes at a time to read, anything less than supremely engaging is abandoned in favor of a magazine article. There is a part of me that understands this a little, she’s a mother, she has a business to run, more likely than not her days are much like mine, constantly moving from sunrise to bedtime. But I must confess that I melt down in a life that is like that day after day, week after week and then I spend a whole day doing very little but reading, my way of resting and recharging.
But this is a book that the majority of people could relate to on some level, most of us have ended a relationship, even though it was painful, too many of us have been in love with someone that made us crazy, either figuratively or literally and hasn’t everyone had a broken heart? This is, of course, just the beginning. Even if you haven’t had a crisis so big that you decide to leave the country for a year, I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t had moments they were uncomfortable in their own skin, moments they wanted something different or something more or a change, for god’s sake, any change, something better, more meaningful, something real.
Much of this book is about her struggle to find peace and quiet her mind, something most Americans aren't particularly comfortable with. I am guilty of keeping a pad of paper on my desk on which I jot down all the whirling thoughts that are interfering with concentrating on the work at hand, the things I have to do, get at the store, remember, put on the calendar and occasionally a moment that I don’t want to forget, like that thing my five year old said this morning. So when she is struggling to meditate in India, I think “you would be no better.” Which ties me into the story again, even though I can’t imagine going to an ashram in India for a day, let alone a month of getting up at 3:30 a.m. to pray and meditate. Being alone is another thing we’re inordinately bad at as a people. I used to have this discussion with my boyfriend over and over. “You need to be alone,” I would say and he would reply that he hadn’t seen anyone all day. Then I would protest that spending a whole day distracted by TV, video games and the computer wasn’t what I meant, I meant alone, without distraction, just spend time with yourself, see what comes up. He didn’t want to see what came up, most people don’t. It’s usually not all that fun in the beginning living with your fears, your past, your demons but in the end, it makes you see more clearly and don’t we want that?
So in this book, you find a rare breed, a book that has enough emotional content to keep you engaged, while at the same time teaching you something, unless of course you are already a yogi master and have already sampled all regions of Italy’s culinary delights and know all about the culture and society in Bali. It is filled with humor, often causing me to laugh out loud while reading (a rare occurrence indeed) and loaded with insights. There were even some parts that struck me, like a physical blow because they rang so true in my own life.
I am a reader but I rarely put down a book thinking, I'm going to read this again sometime. This was that kind of book. I only wish I had written it.
This may be the saddest book I've ever read and yet, I'm not sorry I read it. There were times in the middle when I doubted and I wondered if it wouldThis may be the saddest book I've ever read and yet, I'm not sorry I read it. There were times in the middle when I doubted and I wondered if it would get happier, if it was one of those books where the beginning of someone's life was hard and that set them up for overcoming it later on. This is not that book. On the other hand, this book is the gateway to a world that most of us are woefully ignorant about. You cannot fully understand anything until you've looked at the other side and very few things are as simple as we like to paint them out to be. This is a book about being human, which is painful and guilt ridden and sometimes the moments of joy are few and far between but I would have liked it better if there had been a little more hope. ...more
This is the story of a woman journalist who has been unable to commmit to even one place after tragedy strikes when she is in South Africa. It is a moThis is the story of a woman journalist who has been unable to commmit to even one place after tragedy strikes when she is in South Africa. It is a moving about a woman obsessed with getting a big story who makes a terrible mistake to further her own ends. Though the whole book does not read as depressing, more interesting, there is a section that is not for the faint of heart that concerns the torture of some South African dissidents. There are no torture scenes but just a brief discussion of what happened to some of those people might be too much for some. The writing is superb, enough thoughtful details so that you can feel the story but not so much that it weighs it down. I always appreciate a book that can teach you something, about a place or a time or a person but that doesn't come off as forced or preachy. ...more
Rose Clinton isn't easy to like. It's a bold move to make your main character someone like that. People want someone they can fall in love with, someoRose Clinton isn't easy to like. It's a bold move to make your main character someone like that. People want someone they can fall in love with, someone they hate to be parted from and she cannot be that person. What she manages to be, is interesting. She's interesting because she's not like most of us. She can walk away from her past without wanting to go back, she can make a break that most people never could manage. She can be a mystery to every single person in her life and never feel the need to be understood. The book isn't entirely from her point of view, however, which also makes it interesting but telling you the narrators of the other 2/3 of the book, would give too much away. There are other characters you can like, if you feel the need. Suffice to say that it's worth reading if you have any interest in the turn of a phrase or human nature, unvarnished. ...more
**spoiler alert** This book is not for the happily ever after crowd. It ends badly. Of course it tells you upfront that it's going to end badly and ye**spoiler alert** This book is not for the happily ever after crowd. It ends badly. Of course it tells you upfront that it's going to end badly and yet, somehow as you go on, you forget that and think, well maybe it will end badly for some of the characters but surely, surely, not my favorites. The brilliance of this book is that Ann Patchett succeeds in making even the bad guys multidimensional, sure they've done something bad but there is good too. It illustrates how the choices that a person makes, don't completely reflect who they are. The writing is amazing, the characters are vibrant and it's worth reading even though it comes to a sad conclusion. ...more