Eat, Pray, Eat by Michael Booth

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Eat, Pray, Eat by Michael Booth

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Category: Travel
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Trish Simpson-Davis
Reviewed by Trish Simpson-Davis
Summary: A family trip to India reveals how close the author is to the wire. Fortunately his wonderful wife sorts him out by sending him to yoga boot-camp for a month of soul searching and he finishes a different man.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: August 2011
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0224089630

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I really enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Initially I thought I'd picked up a Me too variant with Eat, Pray Eat and must admit to my heart sinking. But no, here is a different personality with another story and writing style and after a few, doubting pages, I was away. This is a story of a family adventure to India, a hard-fought encounter with yoga, and some culinary interest thrown in. But like Elizabeth Gilbert, like most other visitors, India moved his life-view dramatically and for the better.

The family started off with a very Westernised take on India and Booth admits that he didn't feel at home for much of the trip. I suppose he thought food would be a lingua franca and didn't realise that over this length of time, the novelty of being on holiday fades away and can leave the foreigner feeling isolated and trapped in an alien culture by a remorseless itinerary. His two young sons were a big responsibility, needing to be entertained and educated to justify a term off school. Of course there are countless interesting places and people in which to immerse once off the beaten track, but at times the constant touring is almost like ... being at work.

Michael Booth does his utmost to convince us that he's a pretty worthless character. As a food writer he's clearly used to knocking out those clever, self-deprecating newspaper columns and he tends to report himself as objectively as if he were a collapsing souffle. He tells us how angry, resentful and bitter his mediocre career has made him. He tells us how often he fails. I don't really enjoy dollops of self-abasement: rather than making me sympathetic, they usually make me lose all patience. But I soon felt that Michael Booth was writing more than just a money-spinning misery memoir.

For a start he couldn't possibly be worthless with such a sympathetic and wise partner as Lissen prepared to stand by him. Thanks to her persistence, he eventually admitted that his alcoholism had sent his life off-track. He allowed himself to be bullied into her enforced yoga plan to regenerate his body and mind back into some kind of shape. It was a month of purgatory but by the end he had found himself again. And then his characterful kids obviously adored having a really interesting time with Mum and Dad. So, by then, I really couldn't go along with all that denigratory stuff about his writing. OK, Michael, maybe you're not a literary star or spiritual guru, but you gave one of the neatest and clearest explanations of yoga that I've seen for a long time.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book.

Suggestions for further reading: For travel and cooking, we liked Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchsia Dunlop and India with Passion by Manju Malhi.

Buy Eat, Pray, Eat by Michael Booth at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Eat, Pray, Eat by Michael Booth at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Eat, Pray, Eat by Michael Booth at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Eat, Pray, Eat by Michael Booth at Amazon.com.

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