Really loved this book ,learning about the everyday life of an expat in India through her humerous rendition. I am going to travel through India this year for the first time and found this book a very useful tool. Thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the read.
Love the Aussie humour of the author Sarah Macdonald. This book is a brief summary of all the religions of this great sub-continent. Have read it several times and still pick up new anecdotes. Highly recommend.
Having visited India this year, and travelling non-stop for ten days, I was excited about reading Holy Cow. I read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts before going, during and after coming back from India. The book goes on forever, and although it’s an excellent book I was looking for something a little lighter in Sarah MacDonald’s Holy Cow.
And true to form that’s how it started. My own son is currently backpacking around Central America and I was looking forward to reading Sarah’s adventures backpacking through India. Unfortunately I’d misread the book description, as the backpacking part briefly describes a conversation at the airport before jumping on a plane home and takes about a minute to read. That’s it.
Slightly disappointed I read on and to be fair enjoyed what I was reading. I like the Indian people and I’ve written a lot about them myself. I enjoyed Sarah’s new friends and found myself amused at the variety of myths and superstitions that make up their everyday lives. I bought a copy for my wife, imagining it was just the type of thing she’d enjoy, and I realise now that I’d jumped the gun. She’ll hate it. It will bore her silly.
I’m currently 60% through the book, which I think is equivalent to about 183 pages of a print copy, and the story is doing my head in. I don’t honestly know if I’ll be able to finish it. This is one of those books that you find yourself reading and after a page or two realise your mind has wandered and you’ve no idea what you’ve been reading.
I can’t believe that a book that started off so well can get so repetitive. MacDonald likes to write, and to be fair she’s good at it, but she’s hopeless at stringing it all together. At one stage we find her on the banks of the Ganges (which is actually a beautiful Goddess who crashed to earth from heaven with only Shiva’s dreadlocks to break her fall) for the mass bathing known as Maha Kumbh Mela and then next thing we know she’s at a Buddhist retreat and we’re not quite sure how she got there.
This is the general theme of the book. It would possibly take a lifetime to explore all of India’s religions, Gods and Goddesses, but there’s no denying MacDonald gives it a darn good try. She aims herself at a variety of meditation retreats, yoga studies, Hindu festivals. Buddhist teachings and in fairness to her she gets involved as opposed to just reading about them all. But for the reader it comes across as a bit of a mish-mash, a patchwork goulash of India’s religions, and as one dovetails into another the reader is left a bit flummoxed.
And for that reason, with regret, I can only allocate this a 3 Star rating. It deserves higher, simply because of the effort in living it and writing about it, but for readership content it doesn’t deserve a 4 Star.
I’m feeling a stab of conscience now for the low rating. Perhaps if it was a shorter book, or it flowed better, but it’s not and it doesn’t, and in all honesty I really can’t grant this a 4 Star. 3½ Stars would possibly be a better rating, but there isn’t that option.