Enlightenment for Idiots
A NovelBook - 2008/04/15
Nearing age thirty, Amanda thought she’d be someone else by now. Instead, she’s just herself: an ex-nanny yogini-wannabe who cranks out “For Idiots” travel guides just to scrape by. Yes, she has her sexy photographer boyfriend, but he’s usually gone—shooting a dogsled race in Alaska or a vision quest in Peru—or just hooking up with other girls. However, she’s sure her new assignment, “Enlightenment for Idiots,” will change everything; now she’ll become the serene, centered woman she was meant to be. After some breakup sex, she’s off to India to find a new, more spiritual life.
What she finds, though, is an ashram run by investment bankers, a yoga master who trashes her knee, and a guru with a weakness for fashion models. She escapes a tantra party at the Taj Hotel, has a nasty argument outside the cave where the Buddha used to meditate, then agonizes through the ten-day silent retreat that’s supposed to make her feel better.
No, India is not what she had pictured. But she finds a friend in Devi Das, a redheaded sadhu who refers to himself as “we.” And when a holy lunatic on the street offers her an enigmatic blessing, Amanda realizes a new life may be in store for her—just not the one she was expecting.
Baker & Taylor
Hoping to write the ultimate book on meditation, Amanda, an aspiring yoga instructor, is stuck earning a living as a hack writer of travel guides and is thrilled when her commitment-phobic photographer boyfriend offers her the opportunity to travel with him to the spiritual sites of India, but her trip and an unwelcome revelation force her to make tough choices about love, life, and spiritual practice. 30,000 first printing.
A disillusioned freelance writer travels to India to write a how-to book on enlightenment, and finds her spiritual journey to be difficult but satisfying.
From the critics
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When Amanda, an up and coming yogini and Idiot guide writer, is sent to India by her publisher to study enlightenment and how to get it, it’s like a dream come true. But after chasing enlightenment from Ashram to Ashram, guru to guru, Amanda wonders if “enlightenment [is] just the booby prize, the thing you went after when what you really wanted didn’t work out.”
Cushman paints a vivid picture of India, giving the story a rich sense of place. She juxtaposes Amanda’s search for enlightenment with the events of modern day American living making this an enjoyable, yet thoughtful novel. It’s a little bit Bridgette Jones meets Bill Bryson meets Deepak Chopra. Some laugh out loud humor, fascinating travel writing with a fair dose of spirituality. A perfect combination.
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