25 July, 2013

#BookReview :: Journey to Ithaca by Anita Desai

Matteo and Sophie join the 1970s flight of young Europeans to India. Matteo - Italian, raised in the luscious countryside around Lake Como, restless since childhood - has been introduced by a tutor to Hermann Hesse's The Journey to the East, and it opens in him a desperate longing. Sophie - German, practical, worldly - is willing to follow him to the ends of the earth. In India, together they visit swamis, gurus, ashrams - always searching. Matteo is seeking spiritual enlightenment, but for Sophie fulfillment lies in earthly love. And when they meet a holy woman known as the Mother, the differences between them seem to explode. When we learn the Mother's story, we see it as an earlier version of their own - the story of a young girl growing up in Cairo and finding her way East by joining a troupe of Indian dancers she has met in Europe. Her journey, a young woman's daring progress through Paris and Venice and New York, until she finds her moment of transcendence in India, comments on, and gives added breadth to, the young couple's quest.

I absolutely am in LOVE with this lady’s works. Every time I think that things can’t get better and that one of these days one of her books will not be able to live up to the expectation that I associate with her name… She just goes ahead and proves me wrong every single time!

‘Journey to Itchaca’ is the story of a European couple, Matteo and Sophie. They have travelled to India to seeking spiritual enlightenment. While Matteo chooses to believe in everything he discovers and is told by the Swamijis, Sophie takes a more logical approach to everything that is offered to her. She is more of a believer of love which is why she is willing to follow Matteo to every corner of the earth even though their beliefs and needs are so different at this point. The story also covers the life and journey of a spiritual lady who the couple are introduced to as the ‘Mother’. The couple’s differences are magnified with the entry of the ‘Mother’ whose life isn’t that different from theirs. Originally from Cairo, the ‘Mother’ had found her way to India. India was the first place where she felt peace and perfection in life – something her previous life in other countries did not have to offer her.

On one hand the story gives us a look into the life of a couple who are bonded yet broken through their needs. On the other hand is a look into the lives of many foreigners who travelled to Indian Ashrams looking for spiritual enlightenment. On the other hand is again the story of the ‘Mother’ a simple girl from Cairo and her journey to India through American and European countries. Then again there is Sophie’s own quest to prove the ‘Mother’ as a fraud and to get to see Matteo the truth in her eyes. Anita Desai has yet again woven a beautiful story with the threads of human nature and their psyche bringing together ordinary characters with somewhat similar stories.

He r prose is as beautiful as ever in this book. The unexpected, some would say unresolved, ending was a surprise. For me the ending was what sealed the deal… Sometimes it is just better that way – not knowing what really happens next and leave it up to the readers to make out an ending.

Buy this Book

1 comment:

  1. Looks like interesting take on the swinging 70s when everybody was seeking nirvana in India