THE YOGA TEACHER by Alexandra Gray


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In the second novel from London-resident Gray (Ten Men, 2005), a successful British pharmaceutical rep gives up her lucrative career to train as a yoga instructor.

For elegant 40-year-old Grace (the daughter of two physicians) the healthcare profession was an obvious choice, whether or not it particularly suited her. As a legal “drug dealer” shilling antidepressants to doctors, she takes refuge from her hectic city life in the yoga studio, under the ministrations of quirky “Swami P,” who shows her that there really is more to the world than material possessions and quick-fix happy pills. Yoga, which also led her to her handsome unemployed actor boyfriend Harry, inspires Grace to quit her job and pursue a simpler life teaching yoga to others. To that end she signs up for a teacher training course in Southern California, right before dumping the leechy Harry, who was probably cheating on her anyway. Then it’s off to groovy Malibu where she bonds with an assortment of fellow devotees. She also carries on a sweetly intimate correspondence with Dr. James, an attractive (single) psychiatrist back in England who, like Grace, has begun to have doubts about Western medicine and the path his life has taken. Their romantic potential is thwarted, though, when he jets off to Vietnam to study alternative medicine just as she is returning to London. Back at home she quickly picks up a variety of clients ranging from pampered rich women to hard case National Health patients referred to her by a frustrated doctor. These reluctant yogis, who suffer from a variety of mental and physical ailments, challenge Grace’s confidence, as does aging supermodel Collette, who hopes that yoga will help her to conceive. It soon becomes clear to all her students that Grace is a natural—so good that an A-list movie star tries to lure her to New York. But what about Dr. James? Liberally peppered with yogic terms and philosophy, Gray’s drolly funny novel favors Grace’s internal transformation over dramatic plot.

A winning depiction of a modern spiritual quest, even if Grace’s speedy transformation to in-demand guru is a bit too smooth.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-87113-986-3
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2008


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