Yoga School Dropout – Lucy Edge (2010)
The title of this book is absolutely hilarious and was basically what turned me onto it in the first place. I also quietly hoped it would be another Eat Pray Love experience, which I completely adored. It’s largely autobiographical and a travelogue following the story of English advertising executive Lucy Edge who abandons the world of advertising after a decade of hard (and what she considers to be fairly meaningless) work, in search of some deeper meaning to life. She decides to give up her job in advertising and travel through the ashrams and villages of India in search of some of the best yoga retreats and to master the art of yoga.
This book is useful if you are super keen on visiting India and taking up yoga seriously and want to know some of the lingo and what to expect. At the same time I almost felt like it was a little bit too technical and that the language went over my head at times, distrupting the flow of the book. That being said, there’s totally a glossary at the end of the book, giving you definitions for everything imaginable, as well as a range of useful contacts such the location of yoga centres, hotels and resorts, and list of other readings and references.
Also in a way I felt like the author was not really taking the experience seriously and the tone of the book was a bit too light. Half of the book provided some really in-depth knowledge about yoga and was a great travel reference. The other half was really shallow and consumerist and contradicted the whole yogic abandon of worldly pleasures and indulgences – searching for the coolest restaurant or nightclub, lusting over men, getting drunk, checking out other people’s Birkenstock’s or Prada wear. The back cover reads “She’d return a Yoga Goddess – a magnetic babe attracting strong and sweaty, yet emotionally vulnerable, men with her pretzel-like body and compassionate grace.” Like..come on.
Eat Pray Love got much more into the soul of the individual and you feel could sense the rebirth and renewal. I don’t know what Lucy Edge really came away with by the end of the story – but if I wanted to read it to get some knowledge about yoga then I’d definitely give it another crack.
The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde (1891)
In my quest to read my super long list of selected ‘classics’, this novel was next in line and my first venture into the world of Oscar Wilde. Set in the Victorian era of England, it follows the story of protagonist Dorian Gray who is the subject of a portrait painted by the artist Basil Hallward, who is consumed by Dorian’s beauty. Knowing that his beauty and looks will fade with time, Dorian candidly ‘sells his soul’, ensuring that his looks remain timeless as the years go by. His portrait is the centrepiece of the plot and every twist and turn in the story sees the portrait illuminated again in the novel. There is a constant interplay between the actions taken by Dorian and the effect this has on the portrait.
Life is generally all well and good for Dorian. It isn’t until Dorian is accused of playing a role in the death of a young lady that his life takes a dramatic turn for the worse. He lives in terror and fear of what is to come next. Creepishly, the portrait of himelf has also changed, beginning to take on lines of cruelty and corruption which shocks Dorian. He is mortified and disgusted and locks up the portraits, never wanting to see it again. All the while, the town continues to gossip about him and seemingly becomes an outcast of society as he becomes more deranged. It isn’t until he tries to redress his failings that we truly see the ‘curse’ of the portrait, and are gripped by the final climax of the novel.
This novel was quite slow to start off with and I was wondering if I was actually going to push through (actually read another novel in between, which isn’t really a good sign). The language doesn’t help much either, being a bit ye ol’ English and pompous. But perservere! By the second half, the story picks up pace and the momentum really builds. The tone of the novel also changes dramatically. I felt a lot of eeriness, reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr Ripley and drew some parallels between the protagonist’s of a nice, decent character whose actions lead him to be on the run and never able to redeem his character. Definite recommendation of mine – artistic, imaginative, and grips you right until the very last sentence.