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Book Review: The Handbag and Wellies Yoga Club

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Welcome to the next installment of yogadork book corner! It’s our esteemed pleasure to welcome back the indelibly superb Nancy Alder to share her review of  The Handbag and Wellies Yoga Club by Lucy Edge.

While not a true “yoga book” Lucy takes steps on and off the mat to tell her story of a woman forging her path through life, and the choices, joys and struggles along the way. Read the full review, from a yogi’s perspective:

handbag-and-welliesYoga School Dropout was the first book written by Lucy Edge and it chronicled her journey throughout India in search of a guru, a yoga experience and possibly a man.  She filled it with witty descriptions of ashrams and honest reflections of what she experienced during her travels. She left the reader wanting to know more about her life and her yoga practice.  Enter The Handbag and Wellies Yoga Club the follow up to her first book which tells the story of Lucy falling in love, moving out of London and all that ensues because of these transitions.

It is a satisfying sequel to a lovely first book, as the reader gets to find Lucy moving forward in her life and some answers to some of the dangling questions from Yoga School Dropout are revealed.  Without giving away too much of the plot, we learn that Lucy falls in love and tries to conceive a child.  We hear about the trials of moving out of London into the “wilds” of Norfolk, England and of her efforts to find women friends akin to her “Cappuccino Gurus” in London.  Lucy has a gift with words and there are innumerable passages in the book worthy of flagged pages.  However, for a non-Englander it was often hard to follow the nuances and specifics of the chapters describing the Norfolk countryside.  The terminology was colloquial and this American reader felt much like Lucy the Londoner did in the countryside: lost and unfamiliar.  In Yoga School Dropout Ms. Edge included a glossary of local terms, such a similar list of typically British words would be essential if the book was widely released in the United States.

One question I kept asking myself as I read the book was “is this book about yoga?”  There is no doubt that Ms. Edge’s first book was almost entirely about yoga: finding yoga, practicing yoga, rejecting styles and approaches to yoga, sharing yoga, etc.  However, I found myself dragging in the non-yoga related chapters (which tended to be the majority) and flying through those where she talked about finding the right style and teachers with which to practice.  Ms. Edge’s yoga experience really is a supporting actor to the main characters of her book: her relationship, her attempts to have a baby and her adjustment to the quirkiness of country life.  While all these aspects of her life were interesting to me, I felt including the word “yoga” in her title was a misnomer.  She spends some time talking about her practice, for example she struggles to find good teachers and tries Kundalini yoga.  However, it’s her relationship with the “Bad Girls,” fellow yogini “tribe” members that really become heart of this aspect of her book.  I often skimmed much of the bucolic reflections to read the shorter sections about her yoga experiences and friends.  She beautifully describes her female friendships in such a fashion that makes me want to book a flight to England today and join them for a glass of Pinot Grigio.

Ms. Edge has a wonderful way with words: her books are very engaging and easy to read.  There were times in both the first and second books I had to force myself to put them down so I would not stay up all night reading.  Yoga School Dropout is a terrific book for anyone exploring yoga: what it means, what it can be, what is wrong with it and how to come to terms with your own definition of “yoga.”  Though engrossing, The Handbag and Wellies Club may not appeal to some male yogis, or those who find the focus on fertility issues and women’s relationships uninteresting.  While the second of her books may not be perfect for everyone, the captivating writing of Lucy Edge will have any reader hoping for more tales from the mat.

Nancy is co-founder of Namaste Book Club and has previously reviewed Dogi the Yogi for YD.

Read more about Lucy Edge and her work on her website

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