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Date Posted: 11:09:55 11/01/03 Sat
Author: Syl
Subject: Buddha Da

TITLE: Buddha Da

AUTHOR: Anne Donovan

GENRE: Fiction

Anne Donovan's debut novel is an honest, funny and occasionally painful portrayal of what happens to a happy family when one of its number turns to Buddhism looking for answers to life's questions.

Jimmy McKenna is a Glaswegian painter and decorator who takes up Buddhist meditation. His ensuing search for spiritual enlightenment has far-reaching effects on those around him, and causes cracks to appear in what was a stable and happy family life. As Jimmy becomes more involved with his newfound spiritual life, his wife Liz begins to question the strength and validity of their marriage.

I picked it up expecting a fairly light read, and was pleased to find that it is so much more. It's written in dialect, but please don't let that put you off - you'll be missing such a treat. It only takes a few pages to get your head around the accent, and it helps so much in hearing the voices of each character (for example, Jimmy's accent seems much broader than that of his wife, Liz - except for when she's getting upset), and as hosers yis'll get used tae hearin' a Scots accent wi'in nae time. :o) Suffice to say that Ms Donovan does Glaswegian dialect much better than I can! Although there's some slang, none of it is difficult to work out - it's all used within context. The language and style makes the book that much more immediate and involving I couldn't put it down, and it's been a while since a book has had that effect on me.

The characters are well rounded, and realistic. No good guy/bad guy syndrome, and it would be really easy to go down that road with this story. The book is in the first person, and each chapter is told from the point of view of a different family member, so we get to see what everyone thinks of what's happening to their family, and it's helpful to look into their different motivations. It helps you understand and forgive them for some of their actions. Donovan has a talent for pulling your sympathies around to whoever happens to be speaking at the time.

Buddha Da alternately had me laughing and crying, empathising and shocked. It explores the nitty gritty of living with the same person for year after year, and the shock when they do something so out of character that it suddenly seems a stranger has taken their place. It had wondering about the nature of my own relationships: not just with my partner, but my family relationships too.

Well, I'm making it sound maybe a bit more heavy and soulful than I should. Although Buddha Da addresses serious issues, it remains an upbeat story, and is a worthwhile read.

Definitely a keeper, and I'll be recommending it to anyone who'll listen. :o)

There is a more in depth review ***with spoilers*** at the Guardian's website.

Andrea D

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Replies:

[> It sounds DELIGHTFUL, Andrea. I reserved it at the library just now - can't wait! Thanks for a great review. :D -- Judie, 11:39:47 11/01/03 Sat


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[> This sounds really good. I wish I had more time to read these days but I will certainly remember this one for the future. -- Gwen, 13:46:48 11/02/03 Sun


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[> This sounds great! I am also going to reserve it at the library. Having just moved, and given away 25 bags of books to my Oakland neighborhood library -- and still packed 45 boxes of books that I'm currently unpacking -- I'm a bit allergic to buying any, just now. ( I'm #45 on the waitlist for LJG & TPM -- must be a lot of DG fans in this neck of the woods!) -- Lemora, 17:57:45 11/02/03 Sun


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[> [> 45 boxes of books!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy shite! :D I used to buy a ton of books but just can't afford it any more. Back to the library. :D Gave most of them away. Of course I do have my MUST BUYS, like DG and William G. Tapply, and usually Sue Grafton, but I'm back to paperback for her. I love my "comfort books" like her and Bill and DG - ROARKE! Nicole Jordan. But again - who has time to read, like Gwen said. I make time, usually before I go to bed, but even that takes my time when I have a million things I'm SUPPOSED to be doing. But this book sounds good to me and I'm on the reserve list at the library already. Woo hoooooooo. :D -- Judie, 09:05:41 11/03/03 Mon


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[> I'm going to jump right over to my library website to reserve it! It sounds like just the kind of offbeat book that I love - Thanks! -- GinC, 05:14:34 11/03/03 Mon


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[> [> Well, I tried to reserve it, but apparently it won't be released until March 2004 in the U.S. - I'll try again then! -- GinC, 06:51:51 11/10/03 Mon


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[> OK - I am NOW reading Buddha Da - it's great so far and I just want to keep reading - so here I go. :D -- Judie, 01:32:47 11/09/03 Sun


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