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Author Roland Merullo has written twenty-two previous books of both fiction and non-fiction. He is best-known for his prior series of road trip novels, Breakfast with Buddha, Lunch with Buddha,and Dinner with Buddha. In these cross-country adventures, Merullo struck just the right chord, finding a balance of intelligence, humor, wit, inspiration, and poignancy.
Merullo recaptures this magic in his latest work, The Delight of Being Ordinary. Whereas the Buddha books featured well-meaning but sometimes-befuddled American Otto Ringling, Ordinary introduces the reader to Paolo dePadova, Italian-born and raised (although his father was an American). Paolo is also cousin to the current Pope (the actual current Pope Francis is featured) and serves as his First Assistant. This story is Paolo's first person account of exactly what happened when his cousin the Pope and the Dalai Lama, who was at the Vatican for an official visit, together requested that Paolo help them to "escape" together on a four-day trip.
Paulo, a bit of a worrier, quickly realizes that he will be unable to make two of the most recognizable men in the world disappear, and so he enlists the help of his estranged wife, Rosa, a successful salon owner. Once the divine duo are safely slipped from the Vatican and appropriately disguised, the adventure begins. Merullo helpfully segments the story for the reader, sectioning it into Days 1 through 5. With new step of the journey, the quartet encounters various eccentrics and oddities, allowing for development amongst the characters.
At some point during Day 4, fans Merullo's Buddha series will begin to notice some things that sound familiar. For those who are not acquainted with the Buddha novels, The Delight of Being Ordinary certainly stands on its own--and yet for me, I admit that I was thrilled with the small extent to which this book read as a sequel. I simply found Delight to be delightful; if Roland Merullo is new to you, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book as a place to start with his work.
© 2017 Beth Cholette
Beth Cholette, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who provides psychotherapy to college students.
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