What happens when the Pope and the Dalai Lama decide they need a secret vacation?
Roland Merullo’s playful, eloquent, and life-affirming novel finds the world’s two holiest men teaming up for an unsanctioned road trip through the Italian countrysidewhere they rediscover the everyday joys and challenges of ordinary life.
During the Dalai Lama’s highly publicized official visit to the Vatican, the Pope suggests an adventure so unexpected and appealing that neither man can resist: they will shed their robes for several days and live as ordinary men. Before dawn, the two beloved religious leaders make a daring escape from Vatican City, slip into a waiting car, and are soon traveling the Italian roads in disguise. Along for the ride is the Pope’s neurotic cousin and personal assistant, Paolo, whoto his terror has been put in charge of arranging the details of their disappearance. Rounding out the group is Paolo’s estranged wife, Rosa, an eccentric entrepreneur with a lust for life, who orchestrates the sublime disguises of each man. Rosa is a woman who cannot resist the call to adventureor the fun.
Against a landscape of good humor, intrigue, and spiritual fulfillment, The Delight of Being Ordinary showcases the uniquely charming sensibilities of author Roland Merullo. Part whimsical expedition, part love story, part spiritual search, this uplifting novel brings warmth and laughter to the universal concerns of family life, religious inspiration, and personal identity—all of which combine to transcend cultural and political barriers in the name of a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
About the Author
ROLAND MERULLO is the acclaimed author of fifteen previous books, including Revere Beach Boulevard, Golfing with God, and Breakfast with Buddha. Merullo's work has been translated into German, Spanish, Korean, and Croatian, and he has won numerous prizes, including the Massachusetts Book Awards in both fiction and nonfiction. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.
Read an Excerpt
Excerpted from "The Delight of Being Ordinary"
Copyright © 2017 Roland Merullo.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
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Reading Group Guide
1. Each character has very distinct views on religion. Did they change by the end of the novel?
2. Did any of your perspectives on religion change while reading?
3. Where was the common ground in their discussions? Where did they disagree?
4. Which location during their travels would you most want to visit?
5. How was family love emphasized or portrayed in the novel?
6. How did Paolo and Rosa’s relationship change from the beginning to the end?
7. How did the Pope and Dalai Lama’s dreams affect the course of the novel?
8. Do you believe everyone needs to take a step back from their routines of everyday life? Why?
9. In the end, do you think the trip was worth the risk for the Pope and Dalai Lama? For Paolo and Rosa?
10. What is the key message you’ll take away with you from this novel?
11. How important is Cynthia’s appearance and the conversation with her near the end of the novel?
12. Did you recognize her from Vatican Waltz, and did you recognize the characters from Merullo’s bestselling novel Breakfast with Buddha?