$32.95 – Paperback / Vintage / United Kingdom
''So, who are you, Beth?' I tried to think of a good answer.'
A wild child, a self-acclaimed 'bad girl', Beth Marriot is an unusual candidate for the search for inner peace. The Dasgupta Institute runs meditation retreats for those trying to find equanimity in their lives. The course aims to instil a sense of Buddhist detachment from the world. Most students spend ten days learning to let go of their day-to-day concerns, but Beth has been at Dasgupta for nearly nine months.
Working as a server - cooking breakfast, washing up, tidying the rooms - Beth is both part of the retreat and also separate from it. She observes the meditators and other servers with a keen eye but finds it harder to be clear-sighted about herself. One day, while cleaning, she comes across a diary belonging to one of the students. The unknown man has come to the retreat to escape from his struggles with his marriage, his daughter and his job. After months of being deprived of words and emotions, Beth finds that the diary unravels the work she has done to forget the secrets and betrayals in her own life. For Beth is trying to escape as well. And the diary seems to echo the problems waiting for her in the real world in disquieting ways.
The confines of the retreat allow Tim Parks the perfect arena to exercise his astute powers of perception into the human condition and its simultaneous striving for calm and excitement. Is the secret to life to embrace all its mess and confusion or to learn to reject the addictive pull of human desires?
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